NHS Research Ethics Committee (REC) review

All applications, except those processed via the Proportionate Review Process (PRS) are considered at a full REC meeting.



When the REC Manager receives your application they will check that it is valid.

If you have completed your IRAS form correctly and you have submitted it with all the relevant supporting documents, you will be issued with a validation letter within five working days, confirming that your application is valid.

If your application is being considered at a full REC meeting, you should attend the meeting, if possible. Please check directly with the REC Manager if you can only dial in to the meeting by phone.


Attending a full REC meeting

Between seven and 18 members of the REC will be present, together with the REC Manager. It is a formal committee meeting, but the REC will wish to make this a positive and helpful experience.

The Committee will ask you questions surrounding ethical issues arising from your application in order to seek reassurance that all ethical issues have been addressed, and so you should be ready to provide clarification in respect of any ethical issues. It is helpful if you have a copy of your application form and study documents with you to refer to when you attend the meeting.

If your study forms part of an academic qualification then we strongly advise that your academic or clinical supervisor attends the meeting with you. This gives the REC the opportunity to clarify any points directly with your supervisor.

You will not need to take notes as the REC Manager will take minutes, which will form part of the decision letter sent to you.

The REC will generally not be able to let you know their decision at the meeting.

Guidance for applicants attending a REC Meeting

Procedure for inviting applicants to REC Meetings


After the meeting

The REC’s decision will be notified to you in writing within 10 working days after the meeting.

The letter will contain details of any revisions and clarification the REC requires and sometimes the REC may make some suggestions about your research.

If you have any queries or wish to discuss the content of your letter, you should contact the REC Manager or the named person in your decision letter. Your response to that letter would normally be dealt with by the REC Chair by way of delegated authority (or a sub-committee).


When will I get approval?

A REC is required to give an ethical opinion on an application within 60 calendar days of the receipt of a valid application. If you chose not to attend the first meeting available, the 60 calendar days will start from the cut-off date for the meeting (which is 14 calendar days before the meeting date).

Where the REC considers that further information is required in order to give an opinion, it may make one request in writing for further information. The period of 60 days will be suspended pending receipt of this information.

You can find information on current review timelines for full REC review and proportionate review on this website.


Resolving issues

If your application has received an unfavourable ethical opinion and you can address the reasons given for this by the REC, you should revise your research proposal accordingly. You should submit it to the same REC, if convenient, as a new application.

We would recommend that you follow this course of action wherever possible. However, it is possible to submit the application to a new REC if you prefer.



If your application has received an unfavourable opinion and you do not feel it is possible to make all of the changes required by the reviewing REC, you can appeal. In this instance you should email the HRA Improvement and Liaison Manager who will consider the most appropriate way forward. If your appeal goes ahead, we will arrange for your original application to be reviewed by a different REC.

For more information please refer to NHS REC Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS)


Raising Concerns

If you wish to raise a concern about the conduct or operation of a REC, see:


Providing feedback on your experience of HRA services

We always welcome feedback from users of HRA services. If you would like to tell us about your experience of our services then please complete our online feedback form. More information about this form and how we use the information that is gathered is provided in the user satisfaction  section of this site.