Joint Research Management Office

Performing research menu

Personal research access

Do I need a Letter of Access, Honorary Contract with Barts Health or a Research Passport?

It is a requirement that anyone working with NHS patients or staff, accessing patient records or on NHS premises to perform a research-related activity, has in place appropriate local access arrangements.

Those undertaking any non-research activity at Barts Health, in addition to planned research, will need an Honorary Clinical Contract to do so. Clinical contracts additionally enable research activity, whereas research-only arrangements only enable individuals to undertake research. Clinical contracts must be sponsored by a relevant Barts Health clinical group or site management and arranged by them with Trust HR Dept.

The process for obtaining a Letter of Access or Hon Research Contract (formally set out in SOP 39) depends on who a person's substantive employer is, or if they are a student. People fall into 3 possible categories:

NHS employees

Existing NHS employees needing local access at Barts Health NHS Trust (Barts Health) should send in a national template proforma [DOC 25KB] completed and signed by their substantive NHS Trust’s HR Department.

In addition to the proforma, we need to receive confirmation in writing (an email will do) from the would-be Barts Health manager/ supervisor confirming that the person concerned needs access to this NHS Trust’s patients/ data/ samples/ site (as appropriate) and, importantly, for how long.

Supporting information should be emailed to Nick Good in the JRMO

University employees/ students

One way to start the process for non-NHS employees to secure access to several NHS sites is through the Research Passport scheme. If a person already has a Research Passport signed-off at another Trust they should just send that to Nick Good in the JRMO (see below).

There is full guidance to the Research Passport process on the 'My Research Project' (IRAS) website. To apply, please complete the Research Passport Form [DOC 162KB] (when completed, the Research Passport Form becomes your Research Passport).

All NHS Trusts where you will need research access, along with the relevant local lead, will, in due course, need to be named either in Section 2 of the passport form or in an Appendix. If you need to add an Appendix for any new a stand-alone appendix can be accessed here [DOC 36KB].

It is important to stress that a Research Passport is a means of obtaining local access, not an end in itself. 

If an applicant only needs research access at Barts Health then we simply need information, rather than a signed form, to enable us to issue a Letter of Access (LoA) or an Honorary Research Contract (HRC). Whether the outcome is an LoA or HRC depends on whether the research activity will have an impact on the clinical care of the patients involved in that research (most frequently it does not and so an LoA is generally appropriate). Since changes to the rules around Pre-Engagement Checks in 2012, the checks that need to be evidenced depend on the nature of the research activity being undertaken by the relevant individual. Please see the Research Passport algorithm of research activity [PDF 263KB] to determine which checks are necessary in any particular case. This is also available, with additional guidance on completing a Research Passport Form, on the 'My Research Projects' (IRAS) website.

Please note that DBS checks need to be less than 6 months old at the time a Research Passport is signed off and that Occupational Health Checks should be recent, which amounts to much the same. 

Where a Research Passport is not being tendered, in addition to Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) and/or Occupating Health checks, as applicable (see above), the confirmation in writing is required (an email will do) from the would-be Barts Health manager/ supervisor confirming that the person concerned needs access to this NHS Trust’s patients/ data/ samples/ site (as appropriate) and, importantly, for how long.

Obtaining DBS and OH checks is the responsibility of the relevant substantive employer’s HR Department or, for students, their Student-Faculty (or whatever name that goes by locally).

Supporting information should be emailed to Nick Good in the JRMO.

Applicants only need to come to see him, in person, if they need sign-off a Research Passport. Research Passports must be signed face-to-face, accompanied by original supporting documentation. These forms cannot be signed-off by email or through the post.

People who are neither NHS-employed nor University 

Those wishing to undertake research at Barts Health who are freelancers, work for a commercial company or a charity (ie, those who are neither NHS nor University) do not fall within the parameters of the nationally agreed NIHR Research Passport Scheme. That Scheme only covers university employees, university students & those employed by other NHS Trusts. 

The process for arranging an Honorary Contract for those who fall outside that group, including freelancers, employees of commercial companies and charities, is what used to happen before for everyone: Specifically, the applicant needs to identify a Barts Health clinical or site-based team manager with whom they are going to work. That person is responsible for working with Trust HR, following the Trust HR recruitment process set out on WeShare, Barts Health's staff intranet. In such cases Trust HR will undertake relevant pre-engagement checks and will issue an Honorary Contract to the applicant; the JRMO plays no part in that process.


For further information, or to arrange a visit for Research Passport form sign-off, please contact Nick Good in the JRMO on 020 7882 7274 (13-7274) or by email: 

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