HRA Approval - What you need to know

What is HRA Approval?

Some key facts about HRA Approval

HRA Approval is for research projects that involve the NHS in England.

HRA Approval was fully implemented in March 2016. It combines NHS Research Ethics Committee review with a review against NHS standards that individual NHS R&D offices or NIHR CSP previously performed. HRA Approval replaced NIHR CSP (Coordinated System for gaining NHS Permissions) in England.

NIHR portfolio adoption is required if seeking Clinical Research Network support to deliver your study in England.

The aim of HRA Approval is to make it easier for you to set up high quality research. It uses a combined REC and R&D Form, called the IRAS Form, which is submitted once to the HRA. It brings more efficiency to the approvals process, ensuring that the review against NHS standards is done centrally once, and not by each NHS organisation.

If you have HRA Approval, your interaction with local NHS R&D offices will focus on their capacity to deliver your study and the local arrangements that need to be put in place. See Working with individual NHS sites in any UK nation.

The HRA has compatible arrangements in place with national coordinating functions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. If your study is led from England, the HRA will share the study and their assessment against NHS standards with the other UK nations in which there are sites and vice versa.

If your study is led from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and has English sites, the lead nation will share the study with the HRA so that HRA Approval can be issued for the English sites. You should not apply separately to the HRA. See Studies involving or led from Scotland, Wales or N. Ireland for more information.

The HRA wish to continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of setting up research,  so please feedback to them your experiences by email:

More explanation, leaflets and training materials, are available on the Health Research Authority's HRA Approval web page.