The Research passport initiative was developed by NHS R&D and UK Clinical Research Collaboration to streamline the engagement process for university researchers conducting research in the NHS.
The introduction of the research passport is to eliminate duplication using transparent links between Universities and NHS Trusts. This process is only for researchers with a contract of employment which requires them to engage in health related research in the NHS. The requirement of a research passport is determined by the nature of the research project.
The Research Passport is authorised by HR to verify the following checks have been made against the researcher:
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) - previously Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance
- Occupational Health clearance
- Verification of Identity (passport / birth certificate)
- Two references (from normal recruitment process)
- Verification of permission to work in the UK
- Evidence of professional registration (if appropriate)
- Evidence of qualifications
Once the Research Passport has been issued the NHS Trust in which research is to be conducted, will confirm receipt of the Research Passport and information will be exchanged in the form of either the issue of an Honorary Research Contract or a Letter of Access depending on the nature of the research project. The R&D department of the NHS Trust will forward this document to the University HR department for the researcher's personal file.
Existing researchers who are regularly engaged in research in the NHS can be issued with a generic research passport to cover a period of three years (although this can be increased subject to discussion and agreement with all parties). At the end of the three year period the research passport can be replaced and checks will have to be re-validated.
Where a researcher is engaged on a current project involving health related research and they have an existing honorary contract for that piece of research, a research passport will not be required as valid checks have already been made. When the honorary contract expires and a new research project commences an application should be made for a research passport.
Researchers employed for the purposes of research on a specific research grant, usually on externally funded fixed term contracts, would be issued with a project specific research passport. The duration of the Research Passport would be no greater than three years. If a project changed or a researcher's employment contract was extended the research passport would need to be replaced and checks re-validated.
If a substantive and honorary contract is held by a clinical academic with the NHS Trust there is no requirement to issue a research passport. Where there is no joint arrangement in place a research passport would be necessary.
PortabilityIf a researcher moves from one university to another and continues working on an established project requiring a research passport, the new University should honour the checks already made by the previous HEI unless the research passport has expired or circumstances have changed (such as project scope or personal details).
Impact at Lancaster
The departments which are most likely to be involved in the Research Passport scheme are:
- School for Medicine and Health
- Applied Social Sciences
- Educational Research
What do I need to do to obtain a research passport?
Initial discussion should take place with the Research Office regarding the grant application. If it is agreed that the project requires research passport, the following process should be followed:
Researchers may need occupational health screening over and above pre-employment health screening prior to a research passport being issued. This will be discussed with you during your appointment with Occupational Health. Individual projects will determine the level of screening required and researchers will be informed of any necessary vaccinations following consultation with Occupational Health.
A comprehensive Risk Assessment should be complete by the Principal Investigator prior to submitting a Research Passport application form.
The Research Passport application is authorised by the HR department due to the nature of the clearances required.
Should the grant award allow for a new research post the Principal Investigator should make clear to the HR Recruitment team that a Research Passport is required before the post is advertised.
Useful Information:The Research Passport:Algorithm of Research Activity and Pre-Engagement Checks
Further information on the research passport scheme can be found here.
Undergraduate and Postgraduate StudentsAcademics who are Principal Investigators on research projects should carefully consider the research being undertaken by all involved in the project, including students. During the initial discussion with the Research Office and the R&D representative from the NHS Trust, the role of any students must be explored. As students are not university employees, any research passport applications would have to be pursued within the department. Pre-engagement checks may be required whether or not a research passport is necessary in order to fulfil requirements of the NHS Trust.
The degree of supervision, either from an academic supervisor or a clinical supervisor will determine the level of checks required. Individual NHS Trusts will advise of their requirements.