The research passport system is a procedure for processing and issuing a Honorary Research Contract (HRC) or Letter of Access (LoA) to researchers who are either employed by or are students of a Higher Education Institution (HEI) or are employed by an NHS organisation and want to carry out research study within another NHS organisation.
Imperial College staff or students who have honorary clinical contract with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust do not require HRC or LoA to undertake research within Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT).
A Letter of Access (to conduct research in another NHS organisation) is only needed when the researcher does not have a contract of employment.
Honorary research contract (HRC)
This contract is issued when a researcher (without an NHS clinical contract) plans to undertake research in the NHS.
The research will involve interacting with patients and staff in a way that has a direct bearing on the quality of their care e.g. taking consent for an interventional study which will determine patients access to a specific treatment, delivering a treatment that forms part of the research study and performing an invasive procedure such as phlebotomy on trial patients which could lead to injury or infection.
At Imperial a HRC is referred to as a Licence to Attend (LTA).
For further information contact or tel: +44 (0) 20 3311 1487
Letter of access (route A)
This is required when a researcher (without an NHS clinical contract) plans to undertake research in the NHS.
The activities will not have a direct impact on patient care e.g. interviewing where information from the study will not feed into the patient’s care plan or decision-making in relation to the care of the patient undertaking a randomisation procedure, allocation of trial patients to a specific treatment, accessing identifiable/ anonymised patient data derived from health records with no direct bearing on the quality of care and accessing identifiable/ anonymised staff data only.
Letter of access (route B)
This is required when staff or students of Imperial College who have an honorary clinical contract with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust want to undertake research in another NHS organisation or site.
A letter of access is required irrespective of whether or not the research activities have direct bearing on the quality of patient care.
For an NHS to NHS pre-engagement checks form and other requirements email or tel: +44 (0) 20 3311 1487
You can also obtain a research passport form from Human Resources at the following Imperial campuses:
South Kensington Campus tel: +44 (0) 20 7594 8941
Hammersmith Hospital Campus tel: +44 (0) 20 8383 3202
St Mary’s Hospital Campus tel: +44 (0) 20 7594 3736
For information on the research passports process see the NIHR website
Please see the JRCO SOP on Research Passports.