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Efficiency and the proposed reforms to the NHS research ethics system


Significant changes are proposed for the research ethics system governing the review of the conduct of medical research in the UK. This paper examines these changes and whether they will meet the aimed-for goal of improving the efficiency of the research ethics system. The author concludes that, unfortunately, they will not and thus should be rejected.

  • research ethics
  • NHS research ethics system
  • proportional review
  • efficiency
  • research ethics committees

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  • i There is an apparent discrepancy here between the figure I gave earlier of 30 days’ average turnaround time for an application and the figure quoted in the implementation plan of 40 days. This is because COREC has changed how it counts its turnaround time. The figure I give is based on the interval between receipt to decision. The figure in the implementation plan extends the interval to the applicant’s receipt of the decision letter. I have stuck with the figure of 30 days throughout, because COREC has provided full management information, using the old variable as part of the consultation plan.

  • Competing interests: David Hunter at present sits on one of the ORECNI Research Ethics Committees. He also sits on the University of Ulster Research Ethics Committee.

  • Abbreviations:
    Central Office for Research Ethics Committees
    National Health Service
    national research ethics advisor
    research ethics committee

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