Research Ethics Committees

Independent authorising bodies such as Research Ethics Committees (RECs) safeguard the rights of people participating in research in the NHS. They review applications for research and give an opinion about the whether the research and the proposed participant involvement or use of identifiable data is lawful. RECs are required to be independent when formulating advice on the ethics of the proposed research. Approval must be sought from a REC before any research involving personal identifiable data can commence.

In Scotland each NHS region has a REC, and it is the NHS who is responsible for establishing, supporting and monitoring RECs. However, because RECs must remain impartial, RECs are not part of the NHS management structure and while they operate within a framework of NHS standards and management, neither the Department of Health nor NHS bodies are entitled to interfere with the decision of a REC.

More information about RECs can be found on the National Research Ethics Service website, as well as from the individual NHS regional websites.