Research passport processes

Research Passport Scheme

The Research Passport scheme is a streamlined procedure for issuing honorary research contracts or letters of access to staff and student researchers who do not have a contractual relationship with the NHS who carry out research in the NHS that affects patient care or requires access to NHS Facilities. The research passport scheme is a national scheme that enables HEI employers to share pre-engagement information about a researcher with relevant NHS organisations in which that researcher will be conducting their research activity.

Who needs a Research Passport?

Researchers will not need a research passport if:

  • you are an NHS employee (substantive)
  • you are an independent contractor (eg GP) or employed by an independent contractor
  • you have an honorary clinical contract with the NHS (eg clinical academic)
  • you are a student on a formal healthcare placement
  • you are a commercial researcher.

Different arrangements are needed for these categories, especially if the research is being undertaken at more than one NHS Organisation. These arrangements are outlined in the HR Good Practice Resource Pack.

If you are not in any of the above categories and you have no contractual relationship with the NHS, you will need a Research Passport if you are proposing to carry out research in the NHS. If you are unsure whether you require a Research Passport please contact the West Midlands Clinical Research Network.  If you are a Keele member of staff please contact your Faculty Human Resources Advisor. If you are a Keele student please seek advice from your supervisor in the first instance.

How do researchers get a Research Passport?

A Research Passport is basically an application form, it is not a form of approval to access the NHS. Researchers can either apply for a project-specific or multi project passport (which is valid for 3 years) using the Research Passport Application form.

Researchers wishing to work within Primary Care NHS Organisations should contact CRN West Midlands Primary Care Study Support team via their generic email account - via this route you will receive the relevant forms/information to complete the documentation you required for research passports/Letters of Access/Honorary Research Contract/Study Appendices - it is the responsibility of each researcher to apply for their own RPs/LOAs/HRCs/Appendices etc and keeping them up to date and notifying the WM CRN of any changes.

The Local Clinical Research Network Team will be able to advise researchers which type of passport will be most suitable for each researcher and will also specify what pre-engagement checks are required as part of the research passport application.

Pre-engagement checks

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

If a DBS check is required more information about the procedure can be accessed via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) web page

Occupational Health Clearance

If occupational health clearance is required:

Researchers should ensure that they initiate the relevant pre-engagement checks as advised and complete sections 1-4 of the research passport form accordingly and forward to the appropriate Department (outlined below) for completion of section 5.

For staff – Human Resources are responsible for ensuring that all the necessary pre-engagement checks have been undertaken and are satisfactory and for subsequently signing off section 5 of the form.
For students – Your Faculty Representative (see table below) is responsible for ensuring that all the necessary pre-engagement checks have been undertaken and are satisfactory and for subsequently signing off section 5 of the form.

FacultySchool / InstituteContact
Medical and Health Sciences iSTM
Medical and Health Sciences All others
Natural Sciences All
Humanities and Social Sciences All

Once section 5 has been completed the researcher must take completed the Research Passport form along with the necessary attachments (eg CV, evidence of occupational health clearance, DSB certificate) to the lead NHS organisation for authorisations and validation.

Once authorised by a NHS organisation it becomes a valid Research Passport and can be provided along with the necessary attachments to other NHS organisations where the research will be undertaken.

Further information

If you have any queries, or would like more information regarding the Research Passport Scheme please contact the Clinical Research Network or your Faculty Human Resources Advisor. More information about the Research Passport Scheme can be found on the NIHR website.