A National Committee for the Ethics of Research could consider new questions arising from innovations in research or practice, deal with multi-centre trials, adjudicate when separate local committees give conflicting advice about similar projects, or oversee the work of district committees. The value of each of these functions is assessed and it is concluded that a national committee would be most valuable in providing detailed evaluations of difficult or controversial issues. Though it could offer useful advice about multi-centre trials, local committees would probably wish to continue to consider research involving patients within their health districts even though approval had been given by a central committee. A national committee could usefully oversee the working of a system of quality control throughout the country, but the detailed monitoring of district committees would be done more effectively at regional level.
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