NHS Research Passport Policy and Procedure
This policy aims to clarify the circumstances in which an NHS Honorary Research Contract (HRC) is
required and the process to be followed to obtain the relevant documentation to undertake research
in an NHS organisation.
Where an employee of Leeds Metropolitan University or visiting scholar undertakes research for
another organisation they will require written confirmation from the relevant organisation stating they
can undertake the proposed work. This will be in the form of Honorary Research Contract.
The NHS Research Passport (RP) scheme should be adopted for all research staff undertaking work
in an NHS organisation, where applicable. This scheme provides staff with permission to undertake
research within the NHS. These would be in the form of HRC’s which would be issued to Leeds Met
employee’s undertaking research work within an NHS organisation which has a direct impact on the
quality of patient care.
For a basic summary of the different processes refer to the Flow Chart in Appendix 1.
1.1 What is the Research Passport?
The NHS Research Passport is designed to be completed by researchers who wish to carry out
research in NHS organisations, on NHS premises or with NHS patients, their organs, tissue or data.
The completion of the passport will enable an employee of Leeds Metropolitan University to be issued
with an honorary research contract. The introduction of a Research Passport ensures that
researchers gain the correct checks to satisfy NHS organisations once, prior to their application for an
HRC. An HRC will not be issued without the completion of the Research Passport. Once the
passport is complete the researcher can present the information and attachments to the lead NHS
organisation dealing with the application and an HRC can be issued. If the researcher wants to then
apply to more NHS organisations to carry out the same or a different study, the Research Passport
can be presented and along with existing HRC and a letter can be issued from that organisation(s)
which constitutes a second and subsequent HRC.
1.1.1 Who needs to complete the Research Passport?
It should be noted that all research studies need to go through Ethical and Trust approval processes
in the usual way. Students with whom the Trust does not have an agreement with regard to clinical
placement will need to complete the NHS Research Passport – this may include PhD students. For
students, the supervisor is deemed to be the project “sponsor” and is therefore responsible for the
suitability of the student in carrying out the study. Researchers who do not have to obtain an HRC
Those who already have an honorary employment status in the NHS organisation.
Students gaining experience in the Trust on clinical placements where an agreement with the
University with regard to providing appropriate experience and supervision exists
Staff employed in GP practices do not need to gain an HRC
It is important to contact the lead NHS organisation of the organisation where you wish to
initially complete your Research Passport and apply for your HRC. They will need to register
the project and can advise you on which information is necessary to collect for your Research
Passport. In some instances it may not be necessary to have an enhanced CRB check or any
additional occupational health checks.
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2. Honorary Researchers
2.1 The NHS Research Passport Scheme
The University has adopted the national approach towards NHS Research Contracts, called the NHS
Research Passport Scheme. This system has three primary purposes:
It provides clear guidance on the situations in which an Honorary Research Contract (HRC) is
It provides a streamlined approach for researchers, enabling them to obtain the appropriate
permissions from multiple NHS organisations where their research work may be across a
number of NHS organisations.
It reduces duplication of pre-engagement checks, and ensures that the level of checks
undertaken are determined by the nature of the research and are undertaken to comply with
standards set by NHS Employers.
2.2 Procedure for obtaining an NHS Research Passport
Anyone undertaking research within an NHS organisation must have completed a set of pre-
engagement checks (the only exception to this are those researchers undertaking research where an
NHS RP or HRC are not required and the individual will not require access to NHS premises; see
appendix 2). The type and extent of checks varies dependent upon the nature of work being
undertaken (see appendix 2).
Faculty HR at the University will work with members of existing staff and newly appointed staff to
complete their pre-engagement checks.
Where a researcher requires permission to undertake research within an NHS organisation they
should contact the University Research Office in the first instance who will discuss all documentation
to be completed. The researcher can then discuss with their faculty HR team whether they require an
HRC and will then work with them to complete their pre-engagement checks.
Where appropriate newly appointed research staff will be notified in their appointment letter of the
requirement for an NHS RP or HRC and will be sent the appropriate documents to enable HR to
process their pre-engagement checks. Pre-engagement checks may include Occupational Health
Clearance and a Criminal Records Disclosure.
a) Complete sections 1-4 of the NHS RP application form (see separate guidance for completing an
application for a NHS RP).
b) Pass the NHS RP application form to their line manager to complete section 5.
c) Take the HRP form to the Faculty HR department who will complete section 6 once all of the
appropriate pre-engagement checks have been completed.
d) Take or send the completed NHS RP form and attachments to the lead NHS organisation. The
lead NHS organisation will validate the RP and issue an Honorary Research Contract. Any
queries on completing the NHS Research Passport Application please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
e) Researchers who are undertaking research in a number of NHS organisations can then use their
valid HRP and HRC to obtain permission to undertake research in other NHS organisations.
It may take some time to complete the necessary pre-engagement checks required to complete the
NHS RP , therefore it is recommended that you contact Faculty HR to initiate the pre-engagement
checks as early as possible.
Where Leeds Metropolitan University research staff already hold an Honorary Research Contract
from an NHS organisation which is coming up for renewal, the Faculty HR team will contact the
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individual 6 months prior to the renewal date to advise them whether it is appropriate to apply for an
extension of the Honorary Research Contract under the new NHS Research Passport scheme.
It is compulsory for Leeds Metropolitan University employees who hold Honorary Research Contracts
to notify HR of any changes to employment, health, criminal record, professional registration or any
other circumstances that may impact on their suitability continue or stay to conduct research in the
2.3 Multiple research sites
Researchers should be able to use their valid NHS RP to obtain permission to undertake research in
other NHS organisations, thereby preventing duplication of pre-engagement checks.
Researchers working on a project in more than one NHS organisation should provide their validated
NHS RP and HRC to any other NHS organisations, and they should issue a letter to the researcher
accepting the existing HRC, thereby forming a second HRC with the researcher. Until the NHS RP
has been received the researcher must not undertake any research in a NHS organisation.
3. Honorary Contracts for Visiting Researchers (not employed by Leeds Metropolitan University)
Visiting researchers should have authorisation from an NHS organisation prior to conducting any
research or clinical work which may be associated with work they are undertaking as a visiting
researcher at the University. Visiting researchers should follow the process described in section 2
where they are undertaking research work.
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Flow chart for applying for a n NHS Research Passport
'Application to University
Research Office for
Is an NHS Research Check Required?
required? (Refer appendix 2)
No Researcher completes
signatures in section 5
Research can commence
Passport and original
documents to faculty
application to be sent
to lead NHS
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Guidance regarding whether an Research Passport is required and the nature of pre-engagement
checks and permission document (Honorary Research Contract or Letter of Access) isrequired
Type of research activity researcher will NHS Honorary Criminal Occupational
be conducting Research research record check health
Passport contract necessary? clearance
necessary? necessary? necessary?
a. Direct contact with patients/service users Yes Yes Yes, Yes
and providing prevention, diagnosis or enhanced
treatment of illness (not children or vulnerable
b. Direct contact with children or vulnerable Yes Yes Yes, Yes
adults and providing prevention, diagnosis or enhanced
c. Direct contact with patients/service users Yes No (access Yes, Yes
but not providing prevention, diagnosis or letter required) enhanced
treatment (e.g. observer)
d. Indirect contact with patients/service users Yes Yes Yes, No
and providing prevention, diagnosis or enhanced
treatment (e.g. some types of telephone
e. Access to identifiable patient data, tissues Yes Yes Yes, No
or organs with likely impact on prevention, enhanced
diagnosis or treatment
f. Working on NHS premises only (e.g. Yes No (access Yes, In some
laboratory) letter required) enhanced situations
An NHS Research Passport is not required in the following circumstances unless the research involves
working on NHS premises, in which case conditions relating to activity f (above) apply
g. Indirect contact with patients/service users No No No No
but not providing prevention, diagnosis or
treatment (e.g. some telephone interviews,
h. Access to identifiable patient data, tissues No No No No
or organs with no likely impact on prevention,
diagnosis or treatment
i. Access to anonymised patient data, tissues No No No No
or organs only (including by research staff
j. Direct contact with staff (e.g. interviews) No No No In some
k. Access to identifiable staff data No No No No
l. Access to anonymised staff data only No No No No
The NHS Research Passport does not remove the need for the researcher to apply to the
relevant NHS organisation(s) for permission to conduct the research or to apply for ethical
review. This is inclusive of research activities which do not require an NHS Research
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