The National Research Ethics Service (NRES) was originally asked by the four UK Health Departments, through the United Kingdom Ethics Committee Authority (UKECA) to establish a central advisory panel. The objective of this panel was to help with the strategy, quality assurance and service development of RECs and improve the research environment in the UK. The panel is independent but hosted within NRES and is a resource available to all RECs, funded by the UK Health Departments, within England and the devolved nations. The National Research Ethics Advisors’ Panel held its inaugural meeting on the 23rd September 2009.
Following the move of NRES to become part of the Health Research Authority (HRA) in December 2011, the panel conducted a thorough review of its membership and terms of reference. The subsequent revised terms of reference (see below), approved by UKECA in March 2012, emphasise the panel’s role in helping research ethics committees deliver robust, consistent and fair decisions. The primary focus of the panel is engagement and consultation with all stakeholders, including RECs, with an interest in health research to inform and deliver appropriate guidance and training to the REC community.
The current panel of seven advisors was appointed through open competition in October 2012. Dr Hugh Davies also sits on the panel by virtue of his role as ‘HRA Ethics Advisor’.
The panel meet quarterly at the HRA Offices, Skipton House, London or occasionally elsewhere in the UK as appropriate.
The minutes of all NREAP meetings are available here.
The current NREA Panel members are:
- Prof Andrew George (NREAP Chair)
- Prof Peter Heasman
- Prof Søren Holm
- Dr John Keen
- Ms Ros Levenson
- Dr Mark Sheehan
- Dr Simon Woods
- Dr Hugh Davies (HRA Ethics Advisor)
- Clive Collett (NREAP Manager)
See “meet the panel
” for members’ biographies.
Terms of Reference
The overall objective of the panel is to help RECs deliver robust, consistent and fair decisions through:
- Facilitation and provision of ethical training to RECs;
- Facilitation of RECs’ knowledge and use of currently available guidance and the development of new guidance where it is identified that appropriate guidance is not available;
- Consultation with REC members and other stakeholders to inform and develop guidance. Each NREA will be expected to consult with appropriate stakeholders as required.
- Seeking and inviting appropriate expertise, as necessary, to advise the panel and contribute to guidance;
- NREAP/Chairs’ Network Meetings;
- Support for NRES in dealing with disagreements arising from appeals by applicants and from within RECs;
- Oversight of the ‘shared ethical debate’ external quality assessment programme for RECs;
- Oversight of personal development programmes for REC chairs;
- Advice to NRES or RECs regarding alleged fraud or misconduct in research;
- Support for NRES with relationships with other regulators and stakeholders including research funders, universities, patient groups, professional bodies and industry including AREC;
- Support for NRES with patient and public involvement in research;
- Support for NRES with media enquiries and response to news items or journal articles about NRES;
- Representing NRES at events conferences and meetings;
- Facilitating NRES events;
- Chairing ad hoc advisory groups and working parties as appropriate.