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Social Care Research Ethics Committee (SCREC)

The Social Care REC reviews adult social care research study proposals, intergenerational studies involving adults and children or families, use of social care databases and some proposals for social science studies situated in the NHS (see item 6 below), from researchers based in England. It is part of the National Research Ethics Service, NRES (now part of the NHS Health Research Authority) and its membership, expertise and procedures have been developed to reflect the social care context. The Appointing Authority is the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). Committee members, recruited through open advertisement, include researchers, ethicists, providers and users of social care.


The Social Care REC reviews applications involving the social care sector (e.g. in local authority, private and voluntary care settings) not suitable for review by other NRES RECs or which cross sector boundaries. It generally expects to review the following types of study:

  1. Social care studies funded by Department of Health.
    • Research commissioned directly through the Policy Research Programme.
    • Information Centre (IC) studies (i.e. those to be designed by IC for implementation by Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities, who do not then individually need to seek additional review).
    • Studies commissioned by or through National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Social Care Research.
    • Social care studies funded (in rare cases) through NIHR.
  2. Social care research that involves people lacking capacity in England and Wales and requires approval under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Social Care REC is recognised by the Secretary of State as an Appropriate Body for this purpose.
  3. Social care research involving sites in England and another United Kingdom country.
  4. ‘Own account’ research undertaken by Councils with social services responsibilities, where the Chief Investigator and/or sponsor feels there are substantial ethical issues.
  5. Studies of integrated services (health and social care), provided that there is no clinical intervention involved.
  6. Studies taking place in NHS settings with NHS patients where the approach uses social science or qualitative methods, provided that the research does not involve any change in treatment or clinical practice.
  7. Other social care studies not suitable for review by other NRES RECs, subject to the capacity of the Social Care REC. This could include service user-led research.
  8. Intergenerational studies in social care, where both adults and children, or families, are research participants.

The Social Care REC does not consider any research involving clinical interventions. Such research should be reviewed by another appropriate REC within the NRES. NHS R&D officers will come across social science studies reviewed by the Social Care REC (under item 6 above) when investigators apply for research governance approval. The opinion given by Social Care REC has the same authority as that of any other NRES REC. Such applications do not require separate review by other NRES RECs.

It should be noted that the Social Care REC operates to a wider interpretation of ‘research’ than may apply in the NHS. For example, most service evaluations would be accepted as suitable for review by the Social Care REC. Investigators and sponsors may have a number of reasons for seeking REC review (such as vulnerable participants; wanting advice on consent procedures; ability to reassure publications editors).


All applications to the Social Care REC should be prepared using IRAS, and must be reviewed by the R&IS Research Governance team prior to submission.

  • Once the online IRAS form has been completed and investigators are ready to submit, please contact the Co-ordinator (nrescommittee dot social-care at nhs dot net) who will register the application and provide the reference number which must be entered into the IRAS Form.
  • After the IRAS Form has been submitted online, send (email preferred) a copy of the PDF version together with the checklist and supporting documentation to the Co-ordinator. (Please note that only one copy of the documentation is required).

Please see the Social Care REC website for further information on How to Apply.