The scheme streamlines procedures associated with issuing honorary research contracts (HRCs) or letters of access (LoAs) to researchers who have no contractual arrangements with NHS organisations who host research, and who carry out research in the NHS that affects patient care, or requires access to NHS facilities. The Research in the NHS - Human Resource (HR) Good Practice Resource Pack describes the Research Passport system.
How does the Research Passport Scheme work?
The RPS works by adhering to Research Governance Frameworks (RGF) which makes clear that appropriate allocation of responsibility and hence a clear understanding of liability, is fundamental to good overall governance of research. It standardises procedures for issuing the HRCs or LoAs, in line with the nature of the researcherís activities, and the NHS and or the employerís responsibility for that activity, there by making clear the employerís responsibilities and liability. It also standardises procedures for handling HR arrangements for NHS and Higher Education Instituteís (HEIs) researchers who need to work across one or more NHS organisations, by making use of the Research Passport form and required documentation. By doing this duplication of activity is reduced, resulting in better use of resources and faster study set-up.
This means that, for example, if a researcher from a HEI or a commercial company wants to undertake research in a study that has multiple hosting NHS organisations. Their substantive employer retains primary accountability and liability for their actions. The researcherís employer has the responsibility to carry out relevant pre-engagement checks that give the NHS sites assurance of the researcherís suitability in terms of training, experience and conduct. The RP enables the employer to share pre-engagement information about their researcher with the NHS organisations hosting the researcherís activity.
It does this by providing clear guidance on the relevant checks required a robust process for employers to document and evidence the checks undertaken and clear principles that enable NHS organisations to record and rely on those checks for the duration of the RP. Once the RP is validated by the lead hosting NHS organisation the research, a HRC or LoA is issued depending on the nature of the research activity. On basis of the RP being validated subsequent NHS organisations can accept the arrangements agreed with the first NHS organisation and either issue their own HRC or LoA or accept the lead NHS organisationís LoA or HRC. Where there is any uncertainty about the validity of the RP or the appropriateness of the pre-engagement checks carried out, the hosting NHS organisations can request to see the original documentation and can request new or additional checks to be carried out, in line with the activity being undertaken at their site.
The Research Passport form is not required for researchers who already hold a substantive employment contract with one NHS organisation. For NHS-to-NHS arrangements the organisation which employs the researcher must ensure that the researcher has all the employment checks required (as set out below), specific to the type of research to be undertaken. This is the basis on which the NHS Letter of Access is issued by the NHS organisation(s) who host NHS researchers to the researchers and their NHS employers.
More information about the Research Passport can be found here.
What are the benefits of the Research Passport Scheme?
1) Clear HR processes, in line with NHS Employment Checks Standards, operated jointly by HEI and NHS employers.
2) Clarifies accountability and responsibility for researchers, resulting in increasing patient safety, improving risk management, and for employers improving quality assurance of research staff.
3) One set of checks is undertaken on a researcher conducting research in the NHS.
4) One standard form is completed for each researcher.
5) The form is completed by the researcher and her/his employer, and validated by an NHS organisation, enabling an HRC or LoA to be issued, according to the nature of the research activity.
6) The completed and validated RP is presented to all the relevant NHS organisations.
7) No duplication of checks.
8) Faster study start-up.
Who do I contact to get more information on the Research Passport Scheme?
- Click here for passport form
- Click here for passport appendix
- Click here for NHS confirmation of pre-engagement checks
- Click here for instructions for completing the research passport form.
- Click here to access other passport documents.