Ethics Approval

The National Research Ethics Service (NRES)

The Link opens in new windowNational Research Ethics Service (NRES) was launched on 1 April 2007. It comprise the Head Office function (formerly COREC) and NHS RECS in England and works with colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to maintain the established UK-wide framework for ethical review of research.

When Do I Need Ethical Approval for a Project?

Ethical approval from the appropriate NHS REC is required for any research proposal involving:

  • Patients or users of the NHS.  This includes all potential research participants recruited by virtue of the patient or user's past or present treatment by, or use of, the NHS.  It includes NHS patients treated under contracts with privare sector institutions  
  • Individuals identified as potential research participants because of their status as relatives or carers of patients and users of the NHS, as defined above
  • Access to data, organs or other bodily material of past and present NHS patients
  • Fetal material and IVF involving NHS patients
  • The recently deceased in NHS premises
  • The use of, or potential access to, NHS premises or facilities  


The HRA, along with the MRC, have developed Link opens in new windowan online tool kit to help establish if your research project will need ethical approval.


Proportionate Review Service

The Link opens in new windowProportionate review service provides for expedited review of studies which raise no material ethical issues, presenting minimal risk, burden and  intrusion for participants. This service allows these studies to be reviewed by a proportionate review sub-committee, rather than at a full ethics committee, within 14 days of receipt of valid application. A tool is available on the NRES website to confirm if your study is suitable for proportionate review.

If you are unsure whether your project requires ethical approval contact for advice.


North of Scotland Research Ethics Committee (NOSRES) Meeting Dates

The North of Scotland Research Ethics Service covers Grampian, Highlands and Islands, Orkney and Shetland. The dates of the committee meetings can be found here.

It should be noted that the closing date has been extended from 2 to 3 weeks in order that the Scientific Advisor can triage applications.

NoSRES can be Link opens in new windowcontacted by phone or by email