Research ethics and the potential impact of ethics committees

Research ethics is the application of basic ethical principles, or a moral code of conduct, to research studies. These principles often relate to medical research involving human and animal experiments. The National Research Ethics Service (NRES) was launched in 2007 to protect the rights, dignity and wellbeing of research participants, as well as facilitating and promoting ethical research. The NRES is now part of the Health Research Authority and is known as the Research Ethics Services.  This organisation seeks to:

  • Provide ethical guidance and management support
  • Deliver a quality assurance framework
  • Work with colleagues in the UK to maintain a UK-wide framework
  • Work with colleagues in the wider regulatory environment to streamline processes.

Members of RECs include patients, hospital doctors, GPs, the general public, statisticians, pharmacists, academics, as well as people with specific ethical expertise. Any research participants at a NHS organisation in the UK will come under the protection of a REC. There are currently over 150 NHS RECs across the UK.

For more information on research ethics, visit the Health Research Authority website.