This page provides information about the UK Clinical Ethics Network (UKCEN), including its aims, history and work

Aims of the network

  • To promote the development of ethics support in clinical practice in the UK
  • To promote a high level of ethical debate in clinical practice
  • To facilitate communication between all UK clinical ethics committees

History of the Network

The UK Clinical Ethics Network was established in January 2001 to provide support for the growing number of Clinical Ethics Committees and Advisory Groups that were developing in National Health Service hospitals and some private hospitals in the UK.

In the initial years, UKCEN colleagues – including Professor Alan Watson, Dr Stephen Louw and Professor Anne-Marie Slowther – worked on establishing UKCEN. This work led, in 2005, to the Network becoming a Charitable Unincorporated Association, with Professor Watson as its first Chair.

Clinical ethics support services have developed in the years since the Network began. In addition to those services based in hospitals, in some areas clinical ethics services are available for clinicians working in Primary Care. Services usually take the form of Clinical Ethics Committees, although some organisations employ Clinical Ethicists to provide ethical advice and support in clinical practice. Many Committees advise on a wide range of issues arising in a specific organisation, but some are more specialist in their focus, and others span various organisations or an entire region. You can read more about existing services in About Clinical Ethics Services.

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The Network is made up of members of Clinical Ethics Committees and Advisory Groups, Clinical Ethicists, and other individuals with an interest in clinical ethics. If you would like to become a member of the Network, please visit Become a Member

A Board of Trustees oversees the Network and maintains this website.

What the Network Does

The Network provides support and information for established clinical ethics services and for organisations considering setting up such a service. It publishes a regular newsletter, organises an annual conference and circulates Round Robins to members on emerging topics of relevance to clinical ethics services.

The Network also facilitates sharing of information and best practice between clinical ethics services, through electronic communication, discussion papers and workshops

We partner with the Institute of Medical Ethics (IME), an organisation which is dedicated to improving education and debate in medical ethics. Visit the IME website