Seven new Ethics Committees established

  • Annette King

Health Minister Annette King is pleased to announce the establishment of seven new Health and Disability Ethics Committees.

Ms King said ethics committees play a key independent role in assuring appropriate protection for research participants, and in ensuring there is good research available to promote new knowledge and a healthier community.

One of the new committees, the Multi-region Ethics Committee, will review national and multi-region research. The other six new regional ethics committees will review research to be carried out in their regions. There will be four regions, together covering the whole country, with two committees for each of the two busiest regions.

The new committees will be established under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. Ms King says having the ethics committees established under statute provides a clear and secure source of public authority for the function of independent ethics committee review, and a clear framework for public accountability and transparency.

The Chairs of the seven new ethics committees announced today are:

Martin Tolich (Multi-region Ethics Committee)
Tim Dare (Northern X)
Paul Flanagan (Northern Y)
Helen Colebrook (Central)
Carolyn Mason (Upper Southern A)
Gray Crawford (Upper Southern B)
Jennifer Beck (Lower Southern)

Individual members are listed in the attached chart.

Ms King said there had been widespread interest in nominations for the new committees, and it was pleasing to see people were so willing to contribute their valuable time to the important work of ethics committees.

"The new committees contain a good mix of new members as well as members with previous ethics committee experience to ensure that expertise within the system will be retained and strengthened."

Ms King extended her appreciation to members of the committees being disestablished, for their support during the transition period and for the valuable contribution they had made to the ethical review of health research in New Zealand.

"The strengths of New Zealand's ethical review system, including in lay and local involvement, will be retained in the new arrangements."

Contact: Keiran Bleach 470 6851

Background Information

Why are changes being made to the system of ethical review?
The Minister of Health asked the National Ethics Advisory Committee (NEAC) to review four matters arising from the recommendations of the Ministerial Inquiry into the Under-Reporting of Cervical Smear Abnormalities in the Gisborne Region. NEAC’s review examined how ethics committees in New Zealand operated, and made recommendations to the Minister of Health in December 2003 on changes to strengthen and clarify the system.

NEAC’s review concluded that for any research proposal, a single ethical review only, by a single independent ethics committee, is appropriate.

Following NEAC’s advice, the Minister made the following key decisions regarding changes to the structure and processes of the system of ethical review of health and disability research in New Zealand:

· That a new national ethics committee be established as the primary review body for all multi-centre and national research studies.
· That, as part of the review of all research studies, it will be checked that each locality for the research is appropriate, and this checking process will remain an important responsibility of any ‘host organisation’ in which research is done.
· That the number of regional health and disability ethics committees be reduced, with the 15 current committees being disestablished and 6 new committees, covering larger geographical areas, being established under statute.
· That health and disability ethics committees, and their review activities, be established on a direct statutory basis.
· That a right of appeal from ethics committee decisions should be established, and that the appeal body should be a sub-committee of NEAC.

How will these changes improve the ethical review process in New Zealand?
The decisions by the Minister strengthen the current system of ethical review.

· concentrate expertise and resources: the country’s talents and resources will now be concentrated into 6 new regional ethics committees and one new national ethics committee.
· increase coherency and efficiency: there is one national set of standards, and only one ethics committee review is required to check that each study meets those standards.
· give clear authority for ethics review and increase accountability of ethics committees: ethics committees will now be established clearly and directly under statute.
· safeguard local input, independence, lay people’s contribution, and consultation with Mäori: membership of the new committees is drawn from the whole of each new region; every study will be reviewed by an independent ethics committee, but that independence will now have a more secure public basis; lay membership requirements will remain; consultation with Mäori will continue to be a research responsibility, to be reported and scrutinized through ethics committee review.

Where will the new ethics committees be based?
The Multi-region Ethics Committee will have its administrative base in Wellington, with authority for national and multi-centre research taking place throughout New Zealand. The six new Regional Ethics Committees will have authority in the regions outlined in the map below. There will be two committees in the Northern region, one in the Central region, two committees in the Upper South region, and one in the Lower South region. Together, these regions cover the whole country.

In the Northern and Upper South regions, which each have two committees, one committee will meet in the first week of the month, and the other in the third week. Applications will be divided between committees on the basis of the date on which they are received.

When will the new committees be up and running?
The committees will hold their first meetings in December 2004.

How do I contact my local ethics committee?
Contact details for the new committees are:
CommitteeAdministrator(s)Contact details
Northern X Pat Chainey P: Northern X Regional Ethics Committee C/- Ministry of Health 3rd floor, Unisys Building 650 Great South Rd Penrose (Private Bag 92-522 Wellesley St) Auckland T: (09) 580 9105 E:
Northern Y Juliana Smithells P: Northern Y Regional Ethics Committee C/- Ministry of Health 3rd floor, BNZ Building 354 Victoria St (PO Box 1031) Hamilton T: (07) 858 7021 E:
Central Claire Yendoll Jan Ostnes P: Central Regional Ethics Committee C/- Ministry of Health 10th floor 180 Molesworth St (PO Box 5013) Wellington T: (04) 496 2405 E:
Upper South A Alieke Dierckx P: Upper South A Regional Ethics Committee C/- Ministry of Health 4th floor 250 Oxford St (PO Box 3877) Christchurch T: (03) 372 3037 E:
Upper South B Katherine Bell P: Upper South B Regional Ethics Committee C/- Ministry of Health 4th floor 250 Oxford St (PO Box 3877) Christchurch T: (03) 372 3018 E:
Lower South Riria Tautau-Grant P: Lower South Regional Ethics Committee C/- Ministry of Health 29 Moray Place (PO Box 5849) Dunedin T: (03) 474 8562 E:
Multi-region Ethics Committee Sheryl Kirikiri P: Multi-region Ethics Committee C/- Ministry of Health 10th floor 180 Molesworth St (PO Box 5013) Wellington T: (04) E:

Which committee is responsible for ongoing studies?
Responsibility for all current studies conducted in more than one region will be transferred to the Multi-region Ethics Committee.

Responsibility for all other current studies will be transferred as follows.
Previous CommitteeNew Committee
Auckland X Northern X
Auckland Y
Waikato Northern Y
Bay of Plenty
Taranaki Central
Hawke’s Bay
West Coast Upper South A
Canterbury Black
Canterbury Red Upper South B
Otago Lower South


Multi-region Ethics Committee
Martin Tolich (chair)
Janine Ahie
Cynthia Darlington
Maliaga Erick
Jane Koziol-McLain
Fiona McCrimmon
Graham Mellsop
Barry Smith
Lois Surgenor
Carolyn Weston
Sheila Williams
Christopher Wynne

Northern X Regional Ethics Committee
Tim Dare (chair)
John France
Adina Halpern
Patricia Hanlen
Jeffrey Harrison
Scott Mcfarlane
Emma Ngawhare
Robyn Northey
Stephanie Palmer
H Lester Reed
Louisa Wall
Teena West

Northern Y Regional Ethics Committee
Paul Flanagan (chair)
Christina Bryant
Peter Coughlan
Robert Crawford
Felicity Dumble
Susan Hickey
John Moodie
Elizabeth Spellacy
Claire Scott
Heather Thomson
Michael Vale
Trecia Wouldes

Central Regional Ethics Committee
Helen Colebrook (chair)
Muhammad Asghar
Matire Harwood
Maureen Holdaway
Trevor James
John Kleinsman
Andrea Needham
David Sinclair
Hamilton Taylor
Anne Tuffin
Jacqueline Virtue
Dianne Wepa

Upper Southern A Regional Ethics Committee
Carolyn Mason (chair)
Christopher Budgen
Carolynn Bull
Derek Cone
Andrea Duncan
Dianne Harker
John Horwood
Alison Luckey
Thomas Marshall
Edie Moke
Lee-Ann Ryan-Verry
Russell Scott

Upper Southern B Regional Ethics Committee
Gray Crawford (chair)
Rosemary Carruthers
Simon Clarke
Annette Finlay
Robin Fraser
Sharon Gardiner
Michael Gough
Patrick Graham
David McGregor
Brenda Moran
Mark Smith
Kathrine Townshend

Lower Southern Regional Ethics Committee
Jennifer Beck (chair)
M Clare Robertson
Kenneth Copland
Sandra Elkin
Eileen Gail Tripp
Nikki Kerruish
Fay McDonald
Gwen Neave
Alan Payne
George Philip White
Khyla Russell
Nerida Smith