Clinicians have an important part to play in supporting and promoting health care research and at Surrey and Borders we welcome and encourage our staff and students to engage in research.

Below is some useful information about the documentation needed and helpful websites that contain relevant guidance. If you have any questions about getting involved in or conducting research please get in touch with us on 01932 722 247 or

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Is my project research?

To find out if your project is research please use the Medical Research Council's decision tool. It is based on the 'defining research' table produced by the Health Research Authority's National Research Ethics Service.

HRA approval

If your study is led from England and involves the NHS in England, you should obtain Health Research Authority (HRA) approval. Before you apply for Research Ethics Committee (REC) review, please visit the applicant guidance section of the HRA website for information about how to apply.

Carrying out research at our Trust

All research activity requires Trust approval so if you are approached by external researchers about participating in a study please let us know before proceeding. You can call us on 01932 722 247 or get in touch by emailing  

To gain approval for a study please complete the relevant form, based on the type of research:

UK Clinical Trials Gateway

National Portfolio Studies which meet specific eligibility criteria are recorded in the UK Clinical Trials Gateway.

Please contact us on 01932 722 247 or if you have any queries about the process of obtaining Trust approval.

Policies and procedures

Anyone who would like to carry out research should read and comply with our research and development policies and procedures:


Researchers are responsible for submitting the correct and complete documentation to our research office in a timely manner. We suggest that prospective researchers submit in parallel to their IRAS application.

Student researchers should approach their university for help with ensuring that they understand our policies and procedures, and have all the required documentation in hand.

The following documentation is required electronically:

  • Expression of Interest form. It is the researcher's responsibility to identify a Trust field supervisor to advise them who the professional lead and service manager will be. Both need to countersign the Expression of Interest
  • A full or outline protocol / proposal for the study
  • All attachments, addendums, appendices etc relating to the proposal
  • An PDF version of the IRAS application
  • An HRA approval letter and REC letter
  • A MHRA approval letter, if applicable
  • Confirmation from the relevant sponsor or university of insurance / indemnity cover

All external researchers who seek access to the Trust will need to obtain an honorary research contact (by submitting a research passport where appropriate), and will be issued with a letter of access before entering Trust premises.

Researchers who have a contractual relationship with an NHS body should submit the relevant documentation and request an NHS-to-NHS letter of access.

All of the documentation listed above should be emailed to


Guidance for students

All student research involving the NHS requires approval before you can start to conduct your study. This summary gives a guide about which approvals are needed, what documents you need to prepare and tips for ensuring a smooth approval process.


Updates following COVID-19

A new online booking service will be rolled out for IRAS studies on Tuesday 19 May 2020 – replacing the current Central Booking Service (CBS) telephone line. This is part of our ongoing Research Systems programme of work to improve our services for applicants.

Applicants submitting research projects through IRAS will no longer need to call the Central Booking Service to book a Research Ethics Committee, or to enable IRAS Form submission. Instead applicants will access the new online booking service via IRAS to book their application for review. The service is quick and easy to use and, unlike the current Central Booking Service, will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making it easier for research applicants. If you need help and support with the new system you can call 0207 104 8008 between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.              

In order to make use of this new functionality, applicants will be directed to a new part of IRAS which hosts the online booking service. A separate login will be required, but support will be provided. You will need to set up a new login and password for this area unless you already have a login for a NIHR system or as part of the Combined Ways of Working pilot (CWoW) pilot. In this case you can use your existing log in details.

Applicants will need to answer a series of questions online before being able to book a slot. This directs the applicant to the appropriate REC. The questions will be familiar to anyone who has used the CBS. Once you have completed your online REC booking, you will still need to electronically submit your application in IRAS using the normal process.

Applicants making contact about fast-track COVID-19 studies, should continue to follow our current guidance or email, DO NOT use the online booking service. Similarly, in this first stage of release, Combined Ways of Working (CWoW) applicants and phase I applicants, who currently make use of direct booking with a member of staff, should continue to use existing routes.

The work to build the online booking service began before the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is being rolled out now so that the system can support research applicants with non-COVID-19 studies.

Training and guidance will be available via the IRAS website. You can also watch a short video to see how to use the online booking service.