What is a Letter of Access or Research Passport?
The Research Passport system enables researchers with no contractual employment relationship with a particular NHS Trust to gain access to conduct research within that Trust (and within other NHS organisations) – this is a national and reciprocal NHS system.
Researchers (not employed by the UHSussex) wishing to access our hospitals for research purposes will usually be required to complete a Research Passport Form to provide the required information for their access request. If a researcher is a member of NHS staff for another NHS organisation, an NHS to NHS pre-engagement check form can be completed instead of a Research Passport Form, provided the researcher is undertaking their research as part of their existing substantive NHS role.
A Letter of Access is issued when a Research Passport form (or NHS to NHS engagement form) has been completed and approved. This letter provides formal evidence of permission to access the host NHS organisation facilities.
Why is a Letter of Access or Research Passport necessary?
Research within the NHS is often undertaken by NHS staff not directly employed by the host NHS organisation, or by non-NHS staff, particularly researchers employed by universities. This raises issues about responsibility, accountability, patient safety and duty of care.
To mitigate these issues, all members of the research team must have a substantive employment contract, an honorary NHS clinical contract (i.e. clinical academics with a substantive university contract), an honorary research contract, a Letter of Access or a Research Passport in order to participate in research activity at University Hospitals Sussex. This assures the Trust that pre-engagement checks have been undertaken on the researcher in line with NHS Employment Check Standards.
Further information on the requirements is available from our Research & Innovation Team, The Health Research Authority and the HR Good Practice Resource Pack.
How to obtain a Letter of Access, Honorary Research Contract or Research Passport
- Please review the documentation in the HR Good Practice Resource Pack:
- Employees of other NHS trusts can complete the NHS to NHS pre-engagement check form. to request a Letter of Access.
- Employees of non-NHS organisations must complete a Research Passport Form to request an honorary research contract, Research Passport or Letter of Access.
- Draft the documentation and telephone or email the R&I Department for initial review and advice: email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: (to follow).
- Completed forms should then be signed by:
- The HR Department of the researcher’s substantive employer
- The manager at UHSussex supervising the researcher’s access to the Trust
- The completed and partially signed form, along with any Disclosure & Baring Service (DBS) checks, should then be submitted to the R&I Department.
- R&I Department review will take place followed by UHSussex HR checks. Relevant Letters of Access or contracts will then be issued.