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Research Passports & Honorary Contracts

Research passports

University researchers wishing to conduct studies within the NHS need to obtain NHS permissions to do so from each Trust in which data is to be collected. Previously, honorary contracts were issued by individual Trusts to researchers on receipt of pre-engagement information e.g. CRB checks, occupational health. This meant that researchers working with two or more Trusts, needed to complete multiple honorary contract applications and submit the same information each time.

The research passport was introduced to remove this duplication. Under the scheme, researchers need only supply information once to the issuing or principal Trust (all Trusts are able to do this). Once the passport has been completed and the honorary contract issued, the researcher can apply to other Trusts using the completed research passport. On the basis that the individual has been approved by another Trust (research passport), subsequent Trusts can issue a letter of access allowing the researcher to work in that NHS Trust.

For further information on the process for obtaining HRA approval (NHS permissions), please contact the R&D Department of the main Trust(s) involved in your study. Guidance can be found at HR Good Practice: Information for Researchers, R&D and HR staff in the NHS and HEIs .

Applying for a research passport

Research Passport application forms can be obtained from NHS Trusts R&D offices. Depending on the type of activity planned as part of the study, there are a number of pre-engagement checks that may need to be carried out, the lead NHS Trust R&D office that you are working with can advise you appropriately.

Further guidance can also be found on page 49-65 of the Research in the NHS HR Good Practice Resource Pack.

If you require an occupational health check or a Criminal Bureau Records check please contact the University's Human Resources Office. Please make it clear that you are applying for a research passport. Please note that the Criminal Bureau Records check can take between 10 days and 4 weeks, but there are instances when this can take over 2 months. It is advisable that as soon as you know that you will need a Research Passport you should apply for one so that all the relevant checks can be initiated.

The process for gaining your Research Passport whether for one site or for multiple sites is summarised via the links below:

Flowchart 1: RP Research at a single site

Flowchart 2 RP research at more than one site

Honorary Contracts

Honorary contracts are required for researchers who do not have any contractual arrangements with the NHS but are undertaking research in the NHS which could have a direct bearing on the quality of patient care. A direct bearing on the quality of care suggests that the actions of researchers could foreseeably directly affect the type, quality or extent of prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness, or foreseeably cause injury, or loss to an individual - to whom the organisation has a duty of care.

The following do NOT require an honorary contract:

  1. Researchers with substantive NHS employment contracts: the NHS has existing mechanisms for these staff to work across NHS organisations
  2. Researchers with Honorary Clinical Contracts (e.g. Clinical Academics).

These researchers have joint NHS/university posts which enable them to conduct clinical duties including research, and to work across NHS organisations through the existing NHS systems

Further guidance on whether an honorary contract is necessary can be found in the NHS HR Good Practice Resource Pack . If you are unsure, please contact the R&D Department in the NHS Trust directly.

The University's Human Resources department will aid the facilitation of your Research Passport and Honorary Contract.