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Ethical ethics committees?
  1. S G Barber
  1. Consultant Physician, Northern Devon Healthcare, North Devon District Hospital, Raleigh Park, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 4JB

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    At a recent health authority meeting Professor Stacey, the NHSE Head of Research Ethics, was quoted as stating that for multicentre trials rapid responses were required from Local Research Ethics Committees “and so the decisions on the majority of these studies cannot be made at full monthly meetings of the committee”.1 Professor Stacey has stated that each decision could be made by two members of the committee with delegated powers who could discuss it over the telephone.

    This seems to have a substantial impact upon the democratic process and one wonders about the ethical validity of the decisions coming out of a process in which the majority are required to be made by two members, following telephone discussions. Perhaps your readers might wish to comment - particularly if they share my concern.

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