Share your views on the people who review health and social care research

Last updated on 21 Jun 2023

Independent Research Ethics Committee (REC) members have a crucial role, reviewing and approving new health and social care research, and making sure that studies are safe, ethical and fair. The number and type of people who make up each REC is written in law. We have an opportunity to change this and would like your views on the proposals.

Last year, as part of a consultation on new regulations for clinical trials, people were asked for their views about the membership and make up of RECs. The government’s response to the consultation said that we will change the way we categorise our REC members in the future.

We’ve been working with colleagues in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to review the feedback given as part of the consultation. We’ve also spoken to volunteers who make up the Research Ethics Service in England by being part of or Chairing RECs. We’ve come up with some proposals for the future of REC membership, and we want to hear your thoughts on them.

To tell us what you think, follow these two easy steps

  1. Read the supporting information below, which includes information about how RECs are made up now (you can refer back to it while you complete the survey)
  2. Once you’re ready, go to the survey and answer the questions. This should take no longer than 20 minutes.

About the survey

This survey is about the RECs that review Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products, or CTIMPs. We might need different expertise for the ethics review of other types of health and social care research projects, and we’ll be looking at that as our work progresses.

Types of REC member. At the moment, our members are

  • Expert: Experts are a currently registered health or social care professional (including dentist, doctor, pharmacist, midwife, nurse, chiropractor, ophthalmic optician, osteopath, social worker or someone registered on the HCPC register). You are also an expert if you are a retired dentist or doctor, or someone who is qualified or has experience in conducting clinical research.
  • Lay: Lay members include retired health or social care professionals (except retired dentists and doctors). You’re Lay if you’re someone who is involved with the management, monitoring, regulation or administration of clinical research, or someone who has been a chair, member or director of a health service body or any other body providing healthcare.
  • Lay plus: Lay plus members have never been a registered health or social care professional, involved in clinical research (other than being a participant recruited to a research project), a chair, member or director of a health service body or any other body providing healthcare.

What the public consultation told us

  • There were 844 responses to the question about the constitution of RECs.
  • People told us that the RECs reviewing clinical trials should be made up of a range of people, including a breadth of working professional clinical expertise.
  • RECs should include members with research and statistical expertise, and strong analytical skills, alongside patient representatives.
  • Some people told us that REC members should not have any commercial or pharmaceutical conflicts of interest. They said that members must be trained for the role, for example in research methodology, and that we should keep a record of this.
  • There were several suggestions that we needed to be very clear about what we mean by expert and lay REC members.
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