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Medical Research In The U.K. Is Being Suffocated By Excessive Governance And Ethical Review

4647 words - 19 pages

Medical Research in the U.K. is Being Suffocated by Excessive Governance and Ethical Review

This report will explore and focus on the recent overhaul and complete
reform of the face of research ethics in the UK (United Kingdom).[1]
Researchers and research ethic committees have been waiting for these
changes for a considerable amount of time but will they increase
quality of research or the quantity of it. This report also will try
to examine whether the new changed aid in the safety and dignity of
participants or hinder these in favour of interesting research
protocols.

History of UK’s Research Ethics

The first signs of a “centralised” research governance system of
ethics occurred in 1991. These were however set up as local branches
known as LREC (Local Research Ethics Committees) and were involved in
the regulation of research in their respective local NHS
establishments.1,[2] They are funded by local health authorities and
made up by twelve members consisting of medical professionals to lay
persons.[3] There seemed to be no standardising of directives between
each LREC and hence led to inconsistencies in approving research
proposals, especially multicentre trials.[4]

This led to an uprising in researches complaining about the procedures
in place which inevitably led to calls for a reform. The main concern
was that for a multicentre approval the application was time consuming
and was surrounding with “red tape” and bureaucracy which hindered the
advance of research itself.[5],[6],[7] This called for one regulatory
body in the UK to have the final approval, if granted this meant that
the approved research protocol could take place across a number of
European countries without further criticisms. Thus in 1997 the advent
of MREC (multicentre research ethics committees) took place. This
meant that multicentre applications instead of being scrutinised by
many LRECs, will be considered by one MREC.2

However one aspect of research MRECs failed to consider are local
issues. This resulted in a research protocol being submitted to LRECs
for consideration on the impact of the research in their local
communities.[8] The chief medical officer introduced "pertinent local
issues" as a bid to clarify and decrease time delays in determining
community considerations.4,[9] This brought some light to
standardising approval methods, although other problems remained. It
became necessary for multiple research applications to be submitted to
each LREC and again the original problem of inconsistencies and
bureaucracy hindering research began to emerge. In some cases LRECs
reviewed not only the local issues but ethical ones also and if
noticed it would write to a MREC which were often too busy to reply
and hence the protocol would be rejected.[10]

Research ethics committees have been...

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