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Joint Research Management Office

Personal research access

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

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 the Trust's 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 three possible categories:

NHS employees

Existing NHS employees of other NHS Trusts needing access at Barts Health NHS Trust (Barts Health) for research purposes should submit a national NHS to NHS Proforma [DOC 29KB]completed and signed by their substantive NHS Trust’s HR Department.

In addition to that proforma, we need to receive the following:

  • 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;
  • Details of the research project or projects the person is working on at this site - formal title and identifier (preferably the IRAS number); plus
  • Your CV.

Supporting information should be sent to our Research Governance team

University employees/ students

University employees or students need a Research Passport to start the process. If you already have a Research Passport signed off at another Trust please send that to the JRMO’s Research Governance team 

Full guidance on the Research Passport process can be found on the 'My Research Project' (IRAS) website. To apply, complete the Research Passport Form [DOC 175KB] (when completed and fully signed off, the Research Passport Form will become 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 sites, a stand-alone appendix can be accessed here [DOC 36KB].

Please see the Research Passport algorithm of research activity [PDF 70KB] to determine which checks are necessary in any particular case. 

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

Please send forms and accompanying documentation in by email (not through the post). If you need the JRMO to sign off your Passport at Section 8 please ensure it is submitted as a Word document, not PDFd.

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

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 about research access at Barts Health please contact the Research Governance team: 

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