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UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research

Last updated on 11 Jan 2018

This policy framework sets out principles of good practice in the management and conduct of health and social care research in the UK. 

These principles protect and promote the interests of patients, service users and the public in health and social care research, by describing ethical conduct and proportionate, assurance-based management of health and social care research, so as to support and facilitate high-quality research in the UK that has the confidence of patients, service users and the public.

It is for organisations and individuals that have responsibilities for health and social care research. This includes funders, sponsors, researchers and their employers, research sites and care providers.


The policy framework applies to health and social care research involving patients, service users or their relatives or carers. This includes research involving them indirectly, for example using information that the NHS or social care services have collected about them.

The Health Research Authority and the health departments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have developed the policy framework following public consultation. It replaces the separate Research Governance Frameworks in each UK country with a single, modern set of principles for the whole UK.

Download the policy framework

We welcome your comments on the framework, which will help us improve future versions; and any examples of where you have used the framework as part of your work. Please send any feedback to the Policy Framework mailbox

Professor Chris Whitty

"I welcome publication of the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research which sets out the principles of good practice in the management and conduct of health and social care research across the UK. The Framework will ensure that the public will  continue to feel safe when they take part in research and it will enable researchers to develop innovations which will help to improve the quality of health and care in the UK."

Professor Chris Whitty, DH Chief Scientific Adviser, Interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Interim Head of Government Science and Engineering Profession
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