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  strengthening and streamlining systems for research management and governance

The Research Passport and Streamlined Human Resources Arrangements

Update – August 2013. Three of the example documents in the HR Good Practice Resource pack have been updated to remove references to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) following their abolition (shown as updated in brackets).
This is a temporary measure as the Department of Health works with the NIHR, NHSE and PHE to update the guidance relating to arrangements in primary care. More information will be made available as soon as possible. In the meantime we recognise that the current templates do need further updating and in this interim period should be used pragmatically to suit local needs.

Thank you for your assistance.

New Disclosure and Barring Service – June 2013
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is launching its update service on 17 June 2013. Anyone who is eligible for a DBS check, at any level, can also subscribe to the update service for an annual subscription of £13 per year.

There are a number of benefits to applicants and employers in using the new system. The new service will not introduce any new requirements to undertake periodic or retrospective checks on staff, and any decisions to undertake DBS checks on a regular basis continue to be down to local policy.

DBS Changes

Information for holders of existing Honorary Research Contracts when PCTs are abolished - March 2013

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 Primary Care Trust Property Transfer Scheme 2013
This transfer scheme (paragraph 23(4)) sets out arrangements for the transfer of rights and liabilities for other contracts and agreements including Honorary Contracts.

Honorary Research Contracts

The ‘Research in the NHS: Human Resource (HR) Good Practice Resource Pack’ describes the process for handling HR arrangements for researchers and provides a streamlined approach for confirming details of the pre-engagement checks they have undergone with the NHS.

The ‘Resource Pack’ includes details of:

  • A Research Passport system for issuing honorary research contracts (HRCs) or letters of access to HEI researchers who need to undertake their research within the NHS.  The research passport provides evidence of the pre-engagement checks undertaken on the researcher in line with NHS Employment Check Standards; and 
  • NHS to NHS arrangements for sharing and accepting pre-engagement checks between NHS organisations when NHS staff wish to undertake research within the NHS outside of their employing Trust.

The Department of Health recommends the "Research Passport" to the NHS, to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and to other research employers working in partnership with the NIHR. The UKCRC Partners  endorse the routine use of the Research Passport.

The Research Passport system and associated procedures have been developed in parallel with the development of the Integrated Research Application System and other arrangements across the UK to streamline the arrangements for obtaining permission for research from NHS organisations.

Changes to criminal record and barring arrangements - Sept 2012
The Government is committed to reviewing and reforming the vetting and barring scheme and criminal records regime, scaling them back to common sense levels. Changes to the system were included in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. The first changes came into effect on 10 September 2012, and include:

  • A new definition of regulated activity
  • Repeal of controlled activity
  • Repeal of registration and continuous monitoring.

The HR Good Practice Resource Pack has been updated to reflect the changes. Researchers and their employers should ensure that where applicable new Research Passport applications are supported by an appropriate disclosure. In particular, from September 2012 onwards employers should only request a check against the ISA barred list(s) for positions that fall within the definition of regulated activity. Please note, anyone within the pre-September 2012 definition of regulated activity will remain eligible for enhanced CRB checks, whether or not they fall within the post-September 2012 definition of regulated activity.

Further advice
For advice on the use of the Research Passport, please see below for the relevant lead organisation and contact for each UK nation:

  • England: The NIHR Comprehensive Local Research Networks (CLRNs) are supporting the implementation of this guidance across HEIs and the NHS in England. If you have any questions, in the first instance, please contact the Lead RM&G Manager of your local CLRN. Further information is also available from Jacqueline Mathews, NIHR Clinical Research Network Coordinating Centre at
  • Scotland: NHS Research Scotland via NHS Scotland Health Boards. Contact: Liz Coote
  • Wales: Wales Office of Research and Development for Health and Social Care. Contact: Alex Newberry
  • Northern Ireland: HSC R&D Office Research Passport Working Group. Contact: Gail Johnston.

Background Information
The HR Good Practice Resource Pack was initially developed with extensive support from the NHS R&D Forum working with DoH partners in the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC).  The package sets out guidance and good practice standards, underpinned by standard documentation, so that individual NHS bodies can be confident that the process used to carry out criminal record and other checks on honorary researchers is in line with NHS Employment Check Standards. Following a systematic implementation programme in England during 2009/10, supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Networks, the HR resource pack has been refined to reflect feedback from users of the scheme, including researchers, HR in the NHS and University sectors.  

You can go directly to specific areas of the HR Resource Pack by clicking on the links below.  You can also use the interactive routemap to gain an overview of how the scheme operates for University and NHS Researchers.

The HR Good Practice Resource Pack 

HR Good Practice: Information for Researchers, R&D and HR staff in the NHS and HEIs
Flowchart 1_RP Research at a single site
Flowchart 2_RP Research at more than one site 
Flowchart 3_NHS to NHS arrangements

The Research Passport: Algorithm of Research Activity and Pre-Engagement Checks




The Research Passport

Research Passport Form
Research Passport Form Appendix
NHS to NHS confirmation of pre-engagement checks
Instructions for completing the Research Passport Form 

Frequently asked questions

FAQs_HR_and_Contractual Arrangements
  FAQs_Managing _and_Monitoring_the_RP_System

Example documents

Example honorary research contract and letter for university researchers (updated August 2013)
Example letter for university researchers, where the NHS site  accepts an existing honorary research contract
Example letter of access for university researchers who do not require an honorary research contract(updated August 2013)
Example NHS to NHS letter of access (updated August 2013) 
Example letter of agreement between NHS organisations - Version 1.1
Example occupational health assessment questionnaire (under review)
Example evidence of occupational health clearance
Example confidentiality code of conduct - Version 1.0
Example confidentiality agreement between researcher and GP practice - Version 1.0

Background information

Honorary research contracts principles and legal requirements

The Department of Education has published information on the scope of regulated activity in relation to children.