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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Research and Development

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Research Passports

What is a Research Passport?

A Research Passport is a system for enabling researchers who have no employment contract with a particular NHS trust to gain access to conduct research within that and other NHS organisations.

The Research Passport system provides a mechanism for NHS organisations to be assured that the appropriate pre-engagement checks have been carried out on persons wanting access to the NHS trust to conduct research.

This system standardises procedures for handling honorary research contracts and letters of access for researchers.

The Research Passport form itself is an application form completed by the researcher and their substantive employers. The application form provides the necessary information required to assure NHS trusts that appropriate pre-engagement checks have been undertaken and to identify any further checks or updates required.

Research Passports can be study specific, or can be set up for three years to cover a number of studies. They can be extended for a further time period or to include more studies.

Who does not need a Research Passport?

According to the NIHR guidelines, you do not need a Research Passport if you already have a substantive or honorary clinical contract with an NHS organisation.

Assuming I need a Research Passport, what do I do?

You will need to complete the Research Passport application form (Sections 1-6) in collaboration with your substantive employer and organise any required supporting documentation.

You then need to identify a lead NHS organisation and approach them (this may be R&D or HR depending on the organisation) for the Research Passport to be validated.

You send the completed form and supporting documents to the lead NHS site and, according to the type of research you are undertaking and your role in the research team, either an honorary research contract or a letter of access will be issued.

If your research is multicentre you only need to complete one Research Passport. Once it is validated by a lead NHS site you can then use it to organise access to other NHS trusts by contacting their R&D department.

What if I have already completed a Research Passport and have an NHS honorary research contract and now need go into other NHS trusts to conduct my research?

You will need to organise a Letter of Access from each trust you wish to go into. You should contact the R&D Department at each trust to find out what information they will require from you. The usual procedure is to forward your validated Research Passport and supporting documents to the new organisation for them to complete the second part of section 8 of the form and issue a letter of access.

What does OUH need?

In OUH, Research Passports are being coordinated by R&D.

If you need a Research Passport you should contact the one of the research governance managers, to discuss your research plans and obtain the research passport form and completion guidelines. The R&D Team will identify with you what pre-engagement checks would need to have been done. You and your substantive employer will need to complete the appropriate sections of the form. You will then need to return it to R&D with original supporting documents. You will probably need to come in person to do that.

Once we are satisfied that appropriate pre-engagement checks have been carried out we will provide you with either an honorary research contract or a letter of access, depending on the nature of the research you are undertaking and your role within the research team.

Your completed Research Passport and the original documents will be returned to you. This set of documents is what you will need to gain access to other trusts.

If another NHS trust has already completed the Research Passport with you and you now need access to the OUH, you will need to submit the original of your completed and signed Research Passport form to us, we will then issue your letter of access.

Please note that the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Code of Practice prohibits the photocopying of CRB check documents. You will need to bring the original which we will check and return to you. Please do not send this document by email.

Keeping your Research Passport up to date

It is the researcher's responsibility to keep trusts informed of any changes, for example to your employment status, professional registration status, criminal record etc.

Failure to do so may result in termination of your honorary research contract or letter of access. Additions or amendments to studies on a three year Research Passport need to be countersigned by all relevant R&D offices. Each amendment should have its own appendix page. R&D will take a copy of the amendment. You should also check whether the amendment / new study requires any additional pre-engagement check or a change from a letter of access to an honorary research contract.

NHS staff needing access to OUH

If you already have a substantive or honorary NHS clinical contract with another trust and you wish to conduct research in OUH your employing trust will need to complete an NHS-NHS confirmation of pre-engagement checks form and send it back to us with a signed and dated copy of your CV.

Once we are satisfied that appropriate pre-engagement checks have been carried out we will issue an appropriate letter of access. These letters of access are study specific.

OUH staff needing access to other NHS trusts

You will need to ask HR to complete the NHS-NHS confirmation of pre-engagement checks. R&D is not able to do this because we do not have access to what checks were done when you were employed by OUH.

Please note: the Research Passport does not negate the need for NHS permission through the Health Research Authority and local Trust Management Approval to conduct your research in any NHS trust.

You still need to obtain approval from each of the NHS trusts you will be using for your research.