The responsibility for reviewing most proposals to collect samples from patients in the NHS lies with the national Research Ethics Service run by the Health Research Authority.
Researchers complete an on-line application form where they set out why they want to collect samples, how they will do it and what the samples will be used for. They also submit copies of the patient information leaflet and consent form that they plan to use.
Applications are considered by a Research Ethics Committee (REC) including independent experts and members of the general public.
The collection of samples from NHS patients cannot start until the research team have REC approval and the go-ahead from the relevant hospital or GP clinic