NRES started a pilot system of Proportionate Ethical Review on 1st September 2009. This aims to be a fast track route of approval for research studies which have no ethical issues, with review taking place within just 10 days of the application. If the pilot is judged a success it will roll out to the whole NHS REC system during 2010.
NRES provide a checklist for self-assessment of whether a study really does have no ethical issues on their website.
At pH Associates we have successfully applied for a non-interventional study under this system and found the process timely and responsive. We look forward to the extension of the pilot to all NHS RECs.