The main reason for the HRA’s establishment in 2011 was to improve the research regulation environment. We have made great strides, building on the introduction of a proportionate ethical review, and developing HRA Approval, with more than 5,000 applications approved through the streamlined process .
The HRA will ensure approval is proportionate, equitable and fair by:
- Streamlining processes for researchers
- Improving the advice provided to researchers
- Contributing to a UK-wide approval system
By taking the principles behind the improvements we have already made, and applying them to other aspects of our work, we can make sure approval is proportionate, equitable and fair.
Streamlining processes for researchers
We are already working on projects that will streamline approvals further, bringing both the ethical review and the approvals expected by NHS R&D departments closer together. We will also improve the alignment between the HRA’s evolving role and the remits of other important partners.
Janet Messer, Director of Approvals Service, HRA
Speaking to researchers it’s clear that the way HRA Approval has streamlined the process – bringing together the assessment of compliance against NHS standards and the ethics review – is appreciated and making a difference. But we’re not resting on our laurels. We know from feedback that there are improvements we can make to the application and review process. And we can do more to help applicants develop high quality, well prepared studies
Consolidate and improve advice and information to support applications
Supporting researchers through their applications is a central part of our work. We recognise that this begins before they start to make an application and that’s why we already provide advice, information and best practice guidelines. But we’re always looking for ways to improve what and how we do that. Our new website is an important step forward in this area, both in putting information where people will expect to find it, and improving the information we provide. We plan to do more in this area.
Our support role also extends to the volunteers who play such an important role in health research regulation. We’ll continue to identify areas which would benefit from improved training and support,.
More than 1,000 volunteers help to make health and care research happen, across Research Ethics Committees, the Confidentiality Group and the National Research and Ethics Advisors’ Panel
Leading innovation and developments in regulation and legislation to support UK-based research
Working with partners including the Devolved Administrations, we have created a new UK-wide policy framework covering health and social care research. It sets out the principles and good practice necessary to meet legal obligations and standards necessary to protect the interests of patients and the public.
Mary Cubitt, HRA Programme Manager for the Four Nations Compatibility Programme
We need to make sure the service we offer recognises the world outside of the HRA’s remit and where we fit in with the wider process of a researcher setting up a study: so a process that sits neatly alongside the other checks and balances around health research. Working closely with Four Nations colleagues ensures we maintain UK-wide compatibility, so the UK is seen as an attractive place to do research.
We will continue to adapt in response to new areas and ways of carrying out research so that we continue to enable high quality research and lead in innovation and developments of regulation and legislation to respond to this changing landscape. We will work closely with those leading these new ways to support them navigating the regulations and to enable us to develop further to meet the needs of those that follow.