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West of Scotland Research Ethics Service

The West of Scotland Research Ethics Service forms part of the UK wide NHS research ethics service (https://www.hra.nhs.uk/) and applications can be reviewed from across the UK.  Applicants are free to apply to any suitably flagged REC in the UK although a local REC is advised.  The applicant should book a slot that they are able to attend.  The meetings are generally held remotely and instructions for joining the meeting are sent out ahead of time.

The central West of Scotland office is manned by four Research Ethics Committee Managers and Assistants who cover the four West of Scotland Research Ethics Committees.

A list of all contact details and the meeting and submission dates can be found here:   https://www.hra.nhs.uk/about-us/committees-and-services/res-and-recs/search-research-ethics-committees/

In Scotland the REC Service is managed regionally across four Health Boards.  The Health Board is the appointing authority for each REC.  All NHS RECs in the UK work within the guidelines detailed in Governance Arrangements for Research Ethics Committees (20thJuly 2021)   https://www.hra.nhs.uk/planning-and-improving-research/policies-standards-legislation/governance-arrangement-research-ethics-committees/

The role of RECs

The Role of NHS Research Ethics Committees (RECs)

NHS RECs safeguard the rights, safety, dignity and well-being of people participating in research in the National Health Service. They review applications for research and give an opinion about the proposed participant involvement and whether the research is ethical. NHS RECs are entirely independent of research sponsors (that is, the organisations funding and hosting the research) and investigators. This enables them to put participants at the centre of their research. Each year, NHS RECs review around 6,000 research applications. On average, they give an opinion in less than 30 days: well within the maximum allowance of 60 days. Proportionate Review studies are reviewed within a maximum of 21 days.

REC Membership

Each Research Ethics Committee (REC) consists of between seven and 18 volunteer members. At least one-third of the members must be ‘lay’. Lay members are people whose main personal or professional interest is not in a medical research area. The remainder of the committee are expert members, who are specialists including doctors, other healthcare professionals and academics.  Membership also includes a category known as ‘lay plus’. This category excludes anyone who has been involved in clinical research other than as a participant. REC members often have the sort of experience which will be useful in scrutinising the ethical aspects of a research proposal. For example, they might be patients, members of the public, nurses, GPs, hospital doctors, statisticians, pharmacists and academics, as well as people with specific ethical expertise gained through a legal, philosophical or theological background.

Interested in becoming a member of an NHS REC?

Please get in touch with us and we can send you further details and let you know of any local vacancies available. All NHS RECs are established by the UK Health Departments for the purpose of reviewing research applications that fall within our remit as set out in GAfREC.

Different types of REC

There are two main types of RECs:

Recognised RECs

These are recognised by the United Kingdom Ethics Committee Authority (UKECA) for the review of clinical trials of investigational medicinal products (CTIMPs), in accordance with The Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations.  

Authorised RECs

Established under GAfREC but not recognised by UKECA.  Authorised RECs can review most research that is not a CTIMP.   

Many RECs are fagged to look at particular types of research and these flags can be seen here;  https://www.hra.nhs.uk/about-us/committees-and-services/res-and-recs/search-research-ethics-committees/

During the online booking process you will be directed to an appropriately flagged REC if this is required; https://www.hra.nhs.uk/about-us/committees-and-services/online-booking-service/

In the West of Scotland we have one Recognised REC and three Authorised RECs 

 Information for applicants

Information to help you define if your research project requires review by a Research Ethics Committee can be found here

Research Application Submission

All researchers wishing to undertake a piece of research within the NHS are required to complete an IRAS form. All guidance and information is contained within the site to allow completion of the IRAS form.

Once the application is ready for submission i.e. complete with electronic authorisations etc.  Please follow the current guidance on online submission; https://www.hra.nhs.uk/about-us/committees-and-services/online-booking-service/

Once you have uploaded all of the study documentation the REC Manager will check and validate the submission.  The REC Manager will then issue a validation letter indicating the date and time of the Ethics Meeting and inviting the investigator to attend.  The dates and times of all ethics meetings can be found here: https://www.hra.nhs.uk/about-us/committees-and-services/res-and-recs/search-research-ethics-committees/

After the meeting the investigator will receive a letter within 10 working days stating the outcome which will be one of four possible decisions:

  • Final opinion – favourable or unfavourable
  • Provisional opinion – with request for further information, clarification or revision
  • No opinion – gone to referee for consultation before opinion given

The national ethics service allows 60 days from the submission of the application to final opinion. Clear guidance is given within the IRAS website for researchers who wish to make an amendment to their application after approval or add extra sites.

Contacts and committee details

Contacts and committee details  (dates can vary due to public holidays always check on HRA website)

Committee DetailsMeetsContacts
West of Scotland Research Ethics Committee 1 WoSREC 1 Recognised Type III Flags: CTIMPs Paediatrics Phase I Patients1st Tuesday of the month 9am-12pm
WestofScotland.ResearchEthicsCommittee1@ggc.scot.nhs.uk
West of Scotland Research Ethics Committee 3 WoSREC3 Authorised Flags: QualitativeResearch 4th Thursday of the month, 2-5pm WestofScotland.ResearchEthicsCommittee3@ggc.scot.nhs.uk
West of Scotland Research Ethics Committee 4 WoSREC4 Authorised Flags: Device Trials, Tissue Banks, Research Databases & Paediatrics1st Friday of each month 12-3pm WestofScotland.ResearchEthicsCommittee4@ggc.scot.nhs.uk
West of Scotland Research Ethics Committee 5 WoSREC5 Authorised Flags: Paediatrics 3rd Wednesday of each month 2-5pm WestofScotland.ResearchEthicsCommittee5@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Any queries regarding the service or whether an application requires ethical review should be directed to the Scientific Officer / Ethics Manager – Dr Judith Godden