Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Research governance: Whose idea is it?

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 26 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:238

Rapid Response:

Research governance approval a response from an RM&G Manager


I read with interest the letters in the latest edition of the BMJ
about the problems researchers are having with obtaining research
governance approval. I have experience of these issues from both sides
being a Primary Care Trust Research Management & Governance Manager
and an active researcher who has recently gained approval for a project
across the local Strategic Health Authority. My comments are as follows

1) I see no reason why trusts should be asking fellow NHS employees
for honorary contracts, all NHS organisations are signed up to research
governance and that should be sufficient proof of their status. This is
not a good use of researchers or research governance staff time.

2) If a researcher has an honorary contract with one NHS organisation the
facility exists to issue a letter of authorisation to accept this
elsewhere and unless there are compelling reasons not to do this i.e. no
contact with children or vulnerable adults in other sites then this is
surely the way forward.

3) Procedures are inconsistent across Trusts and one of the reasons for
this is the lack of nationally agreed procedures for which the Department
of Health bears a significant responsibility. One way forward would be
for them to endorse the Research & Development Forum’s toolkit or to
produce their own detailed guidance and standard forms. In the area of
honorary contracts I understand progress is being made by the R&D Forum
and the UK Clinical Research Collaboration on the introduction of a
research passport. There is a need for some kind of multi centre process
to give approval to large scale projects, allowing local Research
Management & Governance groups to concentrate on purely local issues.

I would hesitate to claim we have got it completely right locally
although we do try to be as prompt as we can. What needs to be borne in
mind is in this debate is that research governance is there for a purpose,
namely to provide local quality control on research projects and to
protect the interests of patients and staff. In most cases the projects
we have dealt with have been unproblematic. However there have been a few
cases, in particular commercial drug trials where we have had significant
concerns either about the value of projects or about aspects of patient
safety. It has not always proved easy to get information on why these
have been approved or to take up our concerns. I think this demonstrates
that research governance, though hopefully streamlined, still has an
important role to play.

Mick Bond

Research Manager

North Derbyshire Public Health Network

Competing interests:
My employers Chesterfield PCT have received RM&G funding from the Department of Health since 2002 to covre research governance activities in the three north Derbyshire PCTs

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 February 2006
Mick E Bond
Research Manager
Sarsdale, Nightingale Close, off Newbold Road, Chesterfield, S41 7PF