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Research Passport Guidance
The Research Passport procedure is the NHS mechanism for obtaining an honorary research contract for researchers who:
- will have a direct impact on patient care, for example, providing prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness
- will have access to identifiable patient information
- will have indirect contact with patients/service users whose research has a direct bearing on the quality of their care, for example, some types of telephone interviews.
- wish to access "with consent" identifiable patient data, tissues or organs with likely direct bearing on the quality of their care (with likely impact on prevention, diagnosis or treatment).
The research passport:
- lists the pre-engagement checks required to conduct the proposed research. These could include an up-to-date CRB check and Occupational Health screening
- relies on assurances offered by those employers who have already conducted these checks, to be accepted by the NHS hosts as part of issuing Honorary Research Contracts
- Avoids the need for duplicate checks at other NHS sites where the study is to be conducted
- is also the means by which a researcher can obtain a Letter of Access for research activity which will have no direct bearing on patient care. Researchers requiring a Letter of Access must complete the Research Passport Form. When the form is submitted the NHS will make a judgement on whether a Research Passport or a Letter of Access is required. This is dependent on the proposed research as per the NHS Algorithm.
- The passport procedure should also be used to gain an honorary contract for single site studies.
- The output of the research passport process is an honorary research contract for an NHS trust. The authorised passport must be presented to all research sites to obtain an honorary contract for each site
- The research passport is research project specific. Therefore researchers must state which projects they will be conducting when making the application.
- The research passport, honorary contract or letter of access is required for all new studies. Researchers with research passports for previous studies will not have to reapply for new honorary contracts unless the current contract has expired.
- Students applying for a Research Passport or Letter of Access must be a UCL student registered on a recognised programme of study. This process is not available to students who are academic visitors at UCL or who have a similar status.
The following do not need a Research Passport:
- Clinical academics as they will have an honorary NHS contract.
- Researchers conducting research where the participants are NHS staff
- Researchers who already have an honorary research contract with the NHS
- Researchers whose research does not require any checks or an honorary research contract, that is, research which does not have a direct bearing on the quality of care. For example, forms of laboratory work and access to anonymous patient data, tissues or organs only. This would also apply in the case of access to patient information where Section 60 approval has been granted to the project. For further information please contact Alka Mistry at the Joint Research Office, 1st floor Maple House.
- Placement students supervised by an NHS employee within clinical settings.
Researchers who do not require an honorary contract may require additional pre-engagement checks to undertake permitted research activities in NHS organisations. In addition, researchers who do not require an honorary research contract may require a Letter of Access before a project can commence. The Letter of Access confirms the responsibilities of the researcher and rights of access to conduct research within the NHS organisation.
HR Policy and Planning