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Care Act 2014

Section 112 – The HRA’s policy on research ethics committees

706.This section states the general policy of the HRA in relation to research ethics committees (RECs) it recognises or establishes under sections 114 and 115. The HRA needs to ensure that RECs provide an efficient and effective means of assessing the ethics of health and social care research. Subsection (4) sets out ways in which the HRA may fulfil this function, such as co-ordinating and allocating work to RECs, and providing help and advice. The HRA may also develop and maintain a training programme to ensure that RECs’ members and staff can carry out their work effectively. Subsection (9) requires the HRA to indemnify members of the RECs against certain risks that may be involved in the exercise of the committees’ functions in assessing the ethics of health and social care research.

707.RECs are defined by subsection (2) as a group which assesses the ethics of research involving individuals and gives examples of how research may involve individuals, including obtaining information, tissue or fluid from them.

708.Subsection (3) requires the HRA to publish a REC policy document to set out the requirements that RECs recognised or established by the HRA would be expected to comply with and must monitor their compliance. These requirements are currently set out in the Governance arrangements for RECs (GAfREC) document published by the Department of Health. Subsection (5) lists the requirements that may be included in the REC policy document. Subsection (6) requires the HRA to ensure that the requirements in the REC policy document do not conflict with the requirements imposed on ethics committees under the Clinical Trials Regulations. The Clinical Trials Regulations establish a body called the United Kingdom Ethics Committee Authority (UKECA) which has the power to establish and recognise ethics committees for the purpose of approving clinical trials on investigational medicinal products for human use in the UK under the Clinical Trials Regulations. This subsection would enable a committee which is recognised or established by the HRA also to be able to meet the requirements for recognition by UKECA to ethically approve clinical trials of investigational medicines under the clinical trials regulations so as to avoid duplication. Subsection (8) allows the HRA to revise the document.

709.Subsection (7) requires the HRA to consult the devolved authorities and anyone else it considers appropriate on the content of the document before it is published. This also applies to any significant revision of the document made under subsection (8).

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