National Systems for R&D Permissions

The four UK nations are each seeking to streamline the process of gaining R&D permission. These national approaches are outlined below:


The NIHR Coordinated System for gaining NHS Permission (NIHR CSP) now gives researchers a single point of contact for NIHR portfolio studies. It collates evidence of approvals, agreements and resources so that those responsible for granting permission to begin a study at a NHS site in England can have ready access to it, and need not duplicate checks already completed. This managed system integrates with the activities of the NIHR Comprehensive Local Research Networks which facilitates the local permission process, and help to ensure the NHS is ready to provide the support needed by a study after it begins.

Northern Ireland

A national system has been in place for some time, based on local review with standard systems using the same IT software. The current reorganisation of Health and Social Care Trusts will impact on research management arrangements and has precipitated the review of research support systems, including the case for centralisation.


NHS Research Scotland (NRS) is an initiative developed to streamline the process of obtaining R&D permission for multicentre research studies in Scotland. The NRS Permissions Coordinating Centre (NRS Permissions CC), based in Aberdeen, manages this process and acts as a single point of contact for industry and investigators undertaking commercial and non-commercial studies. NRS Permissions CC collates the national document set, registers the study on the national web-based research database and assigns a lead R&D Office to conduct a generic review on behalf of Scotland, before alerting other participating Health Board R&D Offices to initiate local review. NRS Permissions CC tracks the progress of studies through the review and permission steps and helps maintain adherence to timelines.


A project to streamline the review and approval process for Wales has been initiated. From April 2009, all primary care research studies requiring NHS permission are processed through the centralised Streamlined NHS Permission Approach to Research – Cymru (SPARC) system. For secondary care, a baseline assessment and stakeholder consultation has been completed. Options are currently being assessed, with a view to implement in 2009.