We’re delighted to announce that we have recently published our Annual Report for RECs in England for April 2022 to March 2023.
The report gives an overview of the activity of the RECs in England and sheds light on key highlights, whilst identifying areas that can be developed to further enhance the service.
Our 64 RECs provide an efficient and robust ethics review service, to make sure that research is ethically reviewed and approved. During the annual reporting period, they reviewed:
- 2,418 research applications, with 96% of studies being reviewed in less than 60 days
- 692 proportionate review applications, taking on average 18 days to reach a final opinion
- 70 fast track applications, with a median time of 24 days to reach a final opinion
Our Generic Review Committee, a small but vital team made up of two people, review materials used in recruitment to research. Between 2022 and 2023, they impressively reviewed almost 200 submissions within an average of six and a half days.
Matthew Harris, Head of Approvals Operations at the HRA
Our Research Ethics Committees continue to provide a high quality, proportionate and efficient service. This service makes sure that research is ethically reviewed and approved in a timely manner, which enables the focus to be on the set up and delivery of research that people can trust. The timely approval of applications and amendments is thanks to the hard work of our Research Ethics Committee volunteers and HRA staff.
Between 2022 and 2023, we celebrated many successes including:
The creation of a Seasonal REC has allowed us to offer increased REC meeting slot availability during peak times across the year (spring, summer and winter holiday periods).
The committee is made up of 53 experienced REC members who help make sure we continue to meet timelines for applicants waiting for their ethics review.
Face-to-face REC Development Days
In 2022, we held seven face-to-face REC Development Days across England, which were attended by 324 REC members. The Development Days provided members with an opportunity to meet in person and to network with members of other RECs and HRA staff. Based on the positive feedback we have received about these events, we’ll continue to hold them throughout 2023 and 2024.
Proportionate review toolkit
In September 2022, we created and published a standalone proportionate review toolkit to help us streamline our processes and avoid delays in ethics review. The toolkit helps applicants determine whether their study is suitable for proportionate review and helps direct their study to the appropriate route during the booking process.
Reflecting on the key achievements during the period, Reshma Raycoba, Head of Approvals Support and Improvement at the HRA says,
Reshma Raycoba, Head of Approvals Support and Improvement at the HRA
Our Research Ethics Committee volunteers deliver a service to research applicants that receives consistently positive feedback, as seen in our user satisfaction surveys. Our members support our service in amazing ways and have been instrumental in continuing to shape the way we work to deliver a service that can adapt to demand. We are always so grateful for their dedication and passion.
And it doesn’t stop there…
We’re proud to work with such dedicated REC volunteers, who not only give their valuable time to review research applications, but who have also supported the HRA in many ways between 2022 and 2023, including:
- five members who sat on the Think Ethics programme Advisory Group
- members who took part in two workshops to develop the new quality standards and design and review principles for participant information
- six members who took part in a role play to demonstrate what happens at a REC meeting as part of our strategy launch
- 25 members attended and joined in with workshops and presentations during Make it Public research transparency week
- 14 REC member mentors delivered training and support to newly appointed members with the research ethics review process
We’re extremely thankful for the significant and valuable contributions which REC members provide to help make the UK an excellent place to conduct health and social care research. REC members play a pivotal role in helping the HRA achieve its strategic objectives and give their time freely and generously to enable high quality research to take place in the UK.