Help - Preparing & submitting applications - NHS staff as research participants
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NHS staff as research participants

Pilot - Streamlining research applications where NHS staff are participants

This page explains how to make an application for HRA and HCRW Approval (England and Wales) or NHS R&D Permissions (Scotland and Northern Ireland) via the 'Streamlining research applications where NHS staff are participants' pilot.

The Health Research Authority (HRA) and the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are committed to removing barriers to research. To help achieve this, we have been working together to develop a new pilot.

The pilot aims to streamline research applications involving NHS staff as participants.

The pilot consists of:

  • a reduced IRAS question set
  • study specific guidance on a proportionate approach to Confirmation of Capacity and Capability (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and NHS Permission (in Scotland).

This should make applications quicker, and site set up more efficient, helping researchers to recruit participants more quickly and accelerate their research.

The pilot will start in 2023. It is only open to research applications in the following category which you should select at Project Filter question 4b:

  • Research limited to involvement of staff as participants (no involvement of patients/service users as participants)

The pilot will test the approach for this type of research. We will potentially apply any learning to other types of research in the future.

The guidance on this page is split into the following sections:

How do I apply?

If you’re interested in taking part in this pilot, please email or call us on 0207 104 8127. We’ll decide and let you know if your project is eligible.  

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How do I prepare my pilot application?

If accepted into the pilot, you’ll only have to fully complete the following questions in IRAS:

  • Project filter questions
  • A1 (full title)
  • A3 (CI details)
  • A4 (sponsor contact details)
  • A5-1 (reference numbers - as applicable)
  • A5-2 (project linked to previous or current application)
  • A6-1 (summary of the study)
  • A14-1 (public involvement)
  • A50 (will the research be registered on a public database)
  • A64-1 (sponsor details)
  • A65 (funding arrangements)
  • A68-1 (lead NHS R&D contact details)
  • A69-2 (study duration)
  • A71-2 (nations participating)
  • A76 (insurance)
  • A77 (insurance)
  • Section D (CI and sponsor declarations)

For studies taking place in Scotland and Northern Ireland, you will also be required to complete Section C (participating sites).

You should answer question A54 (peer review) with the following: “Not applicable - this application is part of the 'Streamlining research applications where NHS staff are participants' pilot.”

This will allow you to pass the verification step in IRAS. If this is not done, you will not be able to submit your application.

You should submit your completed IRAS form along with the following project documentation:

  • research protocol (which should include Recruitment and Data Confidentiality sections)
  • participant information sheet/informed consent form
  • letters of invitation (if applicable)
  • evidence of sponsor insurance or indemnity (non-NHS sponsors only)
  • interview schedules/topic guides/questionnaires
  • Organisation Information Document (if applicable)

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What happens once I have submitted?

Once submitted, please confirm that you have done so by email to We will allocate your application to a member of operational staff in your study’s lead nation. They will then conduct a study wide review. The operational team will contact you with any questions or change requests.

Once the review is complete:

  • if you have sites in England or Wales, you will receive HRA and HCRW Approval
  • if you have sites in Scotland or Northern Ireland, those sites will be notified of the completion of the Study Wide Review

Your approval/notification will provide guidance to the site on a proportionate approach to the confirmation of capacity and capability (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and NHS Permission (in Scotland).

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Will you expect anything else of me?

We ask that all applicants complete and return two short surveys. This feedback will enable us to see how the pilot is going and what we can do to improve the experience. We will send the first survey at the time of completion of study wide review, and it will ask you about the application process. Once you have completed site set-up please contact us by email at We will send you the second survey, to ask for your feedback on the set-up process.

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Page last updated: 31 August 2023

IRAS Integrated Research Application System, version 6.3.6, 09/01/2024, IRAS Dataset version 3.5.
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