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Four Nations Policy Leads Group

Last updated on 20 Sep 2021

Our aim is for high standards of health and social care research across the UK. Working together across the four nations of the UK, we provide a co-ordinated research approvals system and consistent policy and good practice standards. This enables researchers to apply for research approval through the same service, whether their research study is taking place in England, Scotland Wales or Northern Ireland. It also provides assurance to research participants that they can expect the same protections and experience wherever they take part in research.

The Four Nations Policy Leads Group provides a forum for UK-wide working at a strategic policy level. It brings together:

  • Health Research Authority
  • Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland
  • Chief Scientist Office in Scotland and NHS Research Scotland
  • Welsh Government and Health and Care Research Wales

The group sets UK health and social care research policy, as set out in the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research, Governance Arrangements for Research Ethics Committees and other topic-specific policies such as the Make it Public research transparency strategy.

The Four Nations Policy Leads Group also acts as a UK-wide discussion and collaboration forum with other bodies working in health and social care research:

  • Department of Health and Social Care
  • Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
  • NHS England/Improvement
  • National Institute for Health Research

The purpose of this forum is to:

  • agree UK-wide policy on research governance and ethics review
  • act as the United Kingdom Ethics Committee Authority (UKECA)
  • increase compatibility across the Four Nations and oversee the UK Compatibility Programme
  • provide a forum for discussion and collaboration on strategic and policy issues relating to research.

Topics discussed recently include:

  • Research restart after COVID-19
  • Student research
  • Research transparency
  • Research ethics review after COVID-19
  • Research Systems Programme

The Four Nations Policy Leads Group meetings are held every two months. The meeting dates for 2021 are:

  • Wednesday 10 February 2021
  • Tuesday 13 April 2021
  • Wednesday 9 June 2021
  • Tuesday 10 August 2021
  • Tuesday 12 October 2021
  • Wednesday 8 December 2021

If you would like to read minutes of past meetings, please contact the group secretariat at

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