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NHS Research Ethics Committee

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NHS Research Ethics Committee

Research proposals will have to be assessed by an NHS Research Ethics Committee if they propose to use or carry out the following activities.

  • Research involving NHS patients and their close relatives, their data or tissues.
  • Research involving NHS staff where the research is not limited to non-sensitive questions about their personal role.
  • A social care research project funded by the Department of Health.
  • Research involving prisoners in the custody of the National Offender Management Service, the Scottish Prison Service or the Northern Ireland Prison Service, where the research is health-related.
  • Storing or using the tissue of a living or deceased person for a research project on premises without a license from the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).
  • Storing or using tissue from the living for a research project without consent where the samples are anonymised to the researcher.
  • Analysing human DNA in material from the body of a living person (or using the results of DNA analysis) without consent, in circumstances where the researcher is unable to identify the tissue donor and not likely to be able to do so in the future.
  • Storing or using tissue for a research project where consent is required and the tissue is from adults unable to consent for themselves.
  • Exporting tissue from the living and there is no consent in place for use in future research.
  • Using of previously collected tissue from which past or present NHS patients could be identified.

Please note: research conducted using tissue provided by Research Tissue Bank (RTB) under approval conditions will be considered to have ethical approval from the research ethics committee under the terms of the ethical approval for the RTB. This means that the end user researcher will not require a license from the HTA for storage of the tissue for use in relation to that research project. Nor will they need to apply for project-specific NRES approval as they will be deemed to have NRES approval from the RTB.

More comprehensive guidance regarding what research needs NHS ethical review can be found on the NHS Health Research Authority website:

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