Ethics committee responses

NRES Committees: NHS REC or Social Care Research Ethics Committee

If you have applied to an NRES Committee (an NHS Research Ethics Committee or the Social Care Research Ethics Committee), there are two steps to follow, according to guidance on the NRES website:

1. Resubmission

First, and wherever possible (according to the guidance) you should resubmit a revised application to the same Research Ethics Committee. The guidance implies (but does not require) that you should try this first. So, if you cannot make the changes require, it might be worth re-submitting your application with a detailed written explanation of why you cannot comply with their requirements (using research literature to justify your position, wherever possible).

2. Appeal

Second, you can make a formal appeal, by emailing the Acting Head of Operations for England. No alternative contact is specified for appeals from Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, so this contact should be used in the first instance. Explain in your email the reasons for seeking an appeal. If an appeal is agreed, your application will be reviewed by another NRES committee.

As noted above, this system applies to the Social Care Research Ethics Committee (SCREC) as well as to NHS Medical Research Ethics Committees (MRECs). There is only one SCREC, and this means that if you make an appeal, your application will be passed to an NHS committee for review.

If your application is still reviewed unfavourably, following appeal, then there is no other recourse – it means you cannot carry out the study as proposed in settings that come under the remit of the NRES committee. You can, however, still re-design your study and submit it as a new application, with the agreement of your funder.