Ethics in health research is not just a matter for researchers or regulators, it’s a topic that affects us all. It can impact us directly if we participate in a health research study. And more broadly, we all have an interest in ensuring a robust and transparent system of ethics review in Ireland: this will protect the wellbeing of research participants, patients and the general public, while making Ireland a more attractive place to conduct clinical trials – giving Irish patients access to innovative medicines and services.
This is why it is important that all members of society have the opportunity to engage with the ethics underpinning health research through active public and patient involvement (PPI). The NRECs and the National Office supporting their work are committed to engaging with people from all walks of life in order to bring a valuable mix of experiences and viewpoints to the table when reviewing ethics applications. Many appointed NREC Members are considered lay members, including members of the general public, and their opinions are given equal weight in the decision-making process as those of Members with medical or other professional experience in ethics.
We also strive for maximum transparency in how we work. Minutes of all NREC meetings and any decisions taken are made publicly available on our website, and the list of NREC Members is available to view online. Members are required to declare any conflict of interest that arises during the course of an NREC’s work, and will not participate in the discussion or decision-making process for applications where conflict of interest applies.
In addition, we want to make the subject of ethics in health research accessible to anyone who wishes to engage with this important topic. One of our priorities as we grow the activities of the National Office will be to facilitate education on ethical decision-making, through the provision of resources and training.
The National Office is happy to support engagement activities to promote ethics and best practice in research. Please contact us if you or your organisation is hosting an engagement event related to scientific research and would like to discuss ways of incorporating research ethics.