Before you begin any research study you must ensure that you have the necessary research governance permissions in place.
Background to Research Governance
Research governance is the systematic approach to maintain and improve the quality of research within the NHS. It can be defined as the broad range of regulations, principles and standards of good practice that exist to achieve, and continuously improve, research quality across all aspects of healthcare in the UK and worldwide. Further details on research legislation and governance can be found on the Health Research Authority website.
All research involving NHS resources must adhere to this framework including:
- all clinical and non-clinical research
- research undertaken by NHS or social care staff using the resources of health and social care organisations
- research undertaken by industry, charities, research councils and universities within the health and social care systems that might have an impact on the quality of those services. The Research Governance Framework is needed to:
- safeguard participants in research
- protect researchers/investigators
- enhance ethical and scientific quality
- minimise risk
- monitor practice and performance
- promote good practice
Obtaining Research Permissions
For research studies involving the NHS, information on the Health Research Authority (HRA) website provides comprehensive details of the research permissions which may be required. You are strongly advised to refer to the information provided by the HRA.
We have listed the most commonly required permissions below.
1. NHS Permission
This applies to research studies in the NHS in Wales or Scotland, or Health and Social Care (HSC) in Northern Ireland. Further information can be found here.
For research carried out in NHS Wales, NHS organisations must give their permission before the research starts. The Health and Care Research Wales Permissions Service accepts all applications for NHS research in Wales and further information is available on the Health and Care Research Wales website.
For research involving the NHS in Wales, the Health and Care Research Wales Ethics Service provides independent advice and support on the extent to which proposals for research comply with ethical standards. For further information, visit the Health and Care Research Wales Gaining Ethical Approval page or the Health Research Authority Research Ethics Committee webpage.
If you are working within the NHS in England please see information on HRA Approval here.
2. Research Ethics Committee (REC)
Ethical review may be required before commencement of your research study, dependent on the type of research being proposed. For further information, visit the Health and Care Research Wales Gaining Ethical Approval page or the Health Research Authority Research Ethics Committee webpage.
3. Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG)
You should apply to the CAG if you intend to access confidential patient information without consent in England and Wales. You will need to apply whether your project is managed as research or non-research. For further information and guidance, refer to the Health Research Authority’s webpage.
More information and support
If you are conducting research as part of a university setting please contact your University’s R&D department for more information. If you are working for the NHS your local R&D office will be able to help you with any queries.