A Research Passport is the mechanism for non-NHS staff (that is, higher education institution employees who have no contractual arrangement with the NHS) to obtain an Honorary Research Contract or Letter of Access when they propose to carry out research in the NHS.
- An Honorary Research Contract (HRC) applies to researchers who plan to undertake research which requires access to patients and identifiable patient data and has a direct bearing on the quality of patient care (for example provision of healthcare, personal care and guidance on well-being). By having an honorary research contract the researcher comes under the umbrella of NHS indemnity and is therefore covered by the NHS against potential claims for negligent harm.
- A Letter of Access (LOA) is required by employees who plan to undertake research which requires access to NHS premises or access to patients and patient data with no direct bearing on the quality of care (for example qualitative interviews, focus groups, on-site analysis of patient data).
The Research Passport scheme provides:
- One set of checks on a researcher conducting research in the NHS.
- One standard form completed by the researcher and his/her employer, and validated by an NHS organisation.
- A completed Research Passport which is presented to all the relevant NHS organisations.
- Faster study start-up.
A Research Passport may be project-specific or may be valid for a period of three years for a number of projects.
Who does this apply to?
If you are either a member of staff or research student at the University, are proposing to carry out research in the NHS, and have no ongoing contractual relationship with the NHS, you will need a Research Passport. If you are unsure whether you require a Research Passport please contact the Research and Development office at the NHS Trust where you intend to carry out your research for clarification.
You will not need a Research Passport if:
- You are employed by an NHS organisation; or
- You are an independent contractor (e.g. GP) or employed by an
independent contractor; or
- You have an honorary clinical contract with an NHS Trust (e.g. clinical academics). In this situation if you wanted to research in another NHS Trust you would need to apply to their R&D department directly for a Letter of Access; or
- You are a student on a healthcare placement.
What do I need to consider?
You may only start your work within an NHS Trust when that Trust has issued you with either an Honorary Research Contract or a Letter of Access.
Please note that the Research Passport is only the mechanism to apply for these: it is not in itself permission to work in an NHS Trust.
We are implementing the Research Passport initiative in accordance with the arrangements set out in the NIHR ‘Research in the NHS: HR Good Practice Resource Pack’ and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight NIHR guidance notes.
What do I need to do?
To apply for a Research Passport, you must follow these steps:
- Download the Research Passport form and read the instructions for completing the form.
- Contact the R&D department in your lead NHS Trust to agree which Risk Assessment Level is appropriate for your research activity, and confirm whether a Disclosure and Barring Service check is necessary, and the level required. You will need to share these Occupational Health Clearance Levels with them and ask them to advise you which Risk Assessment level you need to be cleared to.
- If a Disclosure and Barring Service check is necessary then read the Disclosure and Barring Service Guidance and then book a time with the University’s HR department to conduct the check.
- Contact the University’s Occupational Health (OH) team and advise them of the agreed Risk Assessment Level, to identify the necessary assessments and immunisations required as detailed in the Occupational Health Clearance Levels document.
- Complete sections 1–3 of the Research Passport form, and prepare all relevant documents you will need to present to the University HR department for the relevant pre-engagement checks.
- Ask your University line manager/supervisor to complete section 4 of the form.
- At the agreed time, attend the University HR department to complete the Disclosure and Barring Service application.
- Support the University Occupational Health team to carry out the necessary assessments and immunisations required as detailed in the Occupational Health Clearance Levels document.
- On successful completion of the necessary assessments and immunisations, OH will issue you with a signed clearance certificate.
- Once you have completed the occupational health assessments and immunisations, received your DBS certificate, and have the original documentation for the Pre-engagement Checks, pass these, with your completed form, to the University HR department for checking. If you are a research student at the University, HR will ask Academic Registry to check the details on the form.
- On completion of the checks, the University HR department will sign off their part of the form and return it to you, along with the relevant certificates and clearances.
- If you are a research student at the University, HR will ask Academic Registry to check the details on the form.
- Take the completed Research Passport form with your CV, original DBS Certificate and Occupational Health Clearance Certificate, together with a synopsis of what your research will involve to the lead NHS organisation.
- Once the form has been authorised by one NHS organisation it becomes a valid Research Passport that you can provide to other NHS organisations when you require an Honorary Research Contract or Letter of Access.
You can also view this as a flowchart.
The time taken to complete a Research Passport form is usually governed by the time it takes to receive the Disclosure and Barring Service certificate. Generally, it can take up to 14 working days (3 weeks) to complete a DBS check, from the time the DBS receive the completed online form.
What else do I need to know?
The links below give more detailed guidance on the Research Passport and the application process.
- Research Passport form (the link to the form is "Research Passport form", under "Background Information") and completion detailed guidance
- Guidance on Occupational Health Clearance Levels and the necessary assessments and immunisations
- Guidance on the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) application
- Guidance on the Pre-engagement Checks
- Sample Occupational Health Clearance Certificate
You can also refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.
How do I get help?
Use this contact form to get in touch ( please note that you need to be logged into your UoP staff email account to access this form).