HRA Community ways of working

Last updated on 9 Jul 2024

Welcome to our HRA Community ways of working guidance and information.

If you’re considering working with the HRA or taking part in an HRA activity, for example joining a Research Ethics Committee or getting involved as a public contributor, we hope this information gives you a clear idea of what you can expect from us, what is expected of you and how we can support you.

We’ve developed this guidance in partnership with our HRA Community, which includes members of Research Ethics Committees (RECs), the Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG), and members of the public who work with us through our Public Involvement Network (PIN).

It provides an overview of the following areas:

Our values and behaviours


The HRA is the sum of everyone who works with us and for us. Led by compassion, we want the HRA to be an organisation where everyone feels safe, included and valued. We support each other to learn, from mistakes as well as successes.

To maintain a safe, inclusive environment, we expect everyone to show equal regard for the feelings, viewpoints, dignity and rights of others, whether face to face, online, or on social media.

We will not tolerate any behaviour at any level in the organisation which constitutes bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, intimidation or victimisation, and will take action if allegations are made. This means that you can expect to be treated with respect when you work with us and are expected to treat others in the same way.

By law, and in line with our organisational values, we are required to think carefully about:

  • the elimination of discrimination
  • the advancement of equality of opportunity
  • fostering good relations between people who do and do not share a protected characteristic - this includes age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation (Equality Act 2010 part 11, chapter 1, section 149)

In practice, this means that we all need to make sure our actions and decisions are fair, that we aren’t excluding anyone, and that we take the time to understand perspectives and experiences which differ from our own.

Getting this right will make a difference to how the public views and trusts the work of the HRA.

Our Respect at the HRA video below summarises these standards and reflects the shared principles of both our staff and the HRA Community.

Working together

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We aim to work together respectfully, inclusively, meaningfully and usefully.

We have put together guidance to help everyone put this into practice.

Read our guidance on working together.

Fair and transparent decision-making


It’s essential that the public can trust and have confidence in our work. This is because we are a public body which means we must be transparent in the way that we work and we are held to account for our actions.

One of the ways we do this is by asking all staff and community members to declare any interests that might or might be seen to unfairly influence a decision.

Find out more about how you can declare your interests and what these may look like.

Visit our 'Declaring an interest' page.

Looking after data and information


We will protect your privacy and take care with your personal data, in line with the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK General Data Protection Regulation, and we expect you to do the same for other people.

For example, you might have access to the private contact details of other members of the community, such as an email address. You should treat this information as confidential and not share with anyone, unless you have prior permission from the person concerned.

Please take a look at our HRA privacy statement for more information about how your data is used.

The information you receive as part of your work with the HRA should be kept confidential unless otherwise stated, especially any information which includes personal or sensitive information and / or commercially sensitive information.

Please read our information governance webpages and the HRA Confidentiality Policy for more information about how you should treat information.

You may access meeting documents and applications as part of your role. Please remember that you shouldn’t hold onto any documents or applications – both paper and electronic – for longer than necessary and they should be disposed of in a confidential manner.

If you’re unsure how long is necessary or how to do this, please contact staff leading that activity, such as the public involvement team, or an Approvals Specialist. If you think there may have been a breach, inadvertent or otherwise, please let us know straightaway.

REC and CAG members use some specific systems in their roles. For example, REC members use the HARP Reviewer Portal to access applications and amendments requiring an ethics review, and CAG members use the CAG HARP Reviewer Portal to access applications for review.

We treat all of the information stored in these systems as confidential as set out in our HRA Confidentiality Policy. These systems are password protected, and it’s important to make sure login details and passwords are kept private.

Talking about the HRA

We think it’s really important to share the crucial work that the HRA and our community members do, and we’d love you to tell people about it too!

When talking about the HRA and your work with us, please take into account the following:

Social media

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We regularly post on social media and encourage you to join us online - for conversations, information sharing and to champion health and social care research.

When using social media, we follow the same set of standards and principles that apply to the way we conduct ourselves in other HRA activities and ask you to do so too.

We should all:

  • use language that is appropriate, inclusive and respectful
  • be aware of confidentiality requirements when talking about projects and HRA activities we’re involved in
  • make sure people give their consent before posting images on social media
  • be clear that our views are our own

Please read our social media policy which tells you more about taking part in online activities, keeping yourself and others safe online, and includes guidance on writing blogs, recommendations and endorsements.

If you have a question you would like to ask, please bear in mind that social media might not be the most appropriate place to ask it. If you do have a question, please call us on 0207 104 8000 or email

Media requests

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If you’re contacted by the media in relation to HRA business or the work of a REC or the CAG, for example if you’re asked to comment on something or take part in an interview, please speak to the HRA communications team before responding. A member of the team will be able to support you and liaise with the media on your behalf.  

If you need further media support or would like advice around responding to media coverage, please get in touch with our communications team for guidance.

We also ask that you share any articles or pieces you’ve written for publication in relation to the HRA, including REC and CAG business, with the communications team before they are published.

Freedom of Information requests

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If you receive a request for information which relates to the HRA, please send it to so we can check if it falls under the requirements of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

Read more about how we maintain transparency and respond to FOI requests.

HRA affiliation

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We think it’s brilliant that many of our community members are involved in organisations, groups and projects outside of the HRA.

This helps to create a diverse and connected research community where people can use their expertise and lived experience to improve the way we do research in the UK.

If you’re involved in work or activities that are not part of your official HRA role or responsibilities, you can declare your work with the HRA but please make it clear that you’re not representing the HRA, and that your involvement is in a personal or non-HRA capacity.

For example, you could say:

‘I support the work of the Health Research Authority (HRA) as a (delete as appropriate) member of a Research Ethics Committee / member of the Confidentiality Advisory Group / public contributor. However, my involvement in this piece of work /activity is in a personal capacity and is not as a representative of the HRA.’

This applies to in-person events, meetings and projects, as well as online activities such as social media posts, blogs, articles in publications, academic journals and comment pieces.

The reason we ask you to do this is because we need to be clear about HRA policy and to make sure we’re transparent in the way we work.

We love to hear how our community members are using their HRA experience to benefit the wider health and research sector and beyond, so please let us know what else you’re part of. If it benefits from a joined-up approach with the HRA, we can talk about how best we can do this and how we can support you.

Expenses and payments

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We don’t want it to cost you money to work with us. If you need travel and accommodation, we will normally arrange this for you. If you incur expenses when you work with us, you can claim these back.

If you’re in any doubt about whether you’re entitled to have your expenses reimbursed, please check with your HRA contact before spending any money. We may not be able to reimburse you for any expenses outside of our policies, which you can read further down in this section.

We offer payments to members of the public who are involved in helping shape our work. This is in line with recognised national good practice and seeks to ensure that anyone can help inform, shape and improve health and social care research.

Payments are offered where you’re not already contracted or paid by another organisation for your involvement in our work. REC and CAG members volunteer their time to sit on these committees and are not paid for this, but we do provide payment to some members, like Committee Chairs, to reflect their larger workload.

Find out more about expenses and payments by clicking on your role below.

How to give feedback or raise a concern


We’re committed to providing a service in a professional, fair and courteous manner, and welcome all feedback to help us keep improving.

We’ll always listen to your suggestions and feedback and use them to inform what we do. We’ll let you know how we have done this and what the outcome is.

You can complete our online feedback form or contact us directly.

We also recognise that there may be times when things can go wrong and have established a procedure for dealing with such concerns when they happen.

Please speak to your HRA contact if you have any concerns. They will be able to support you and help to resolve any issues you may have.

Our feedback or concerns webpage tells you more about how to raise a formal concern and how we will investigate and respond to it.

How to get in touch with us


If you would like to speak to someone at the HRA but you don’t already have a named contact, here is a handy list of contact details.

We’ll make sure your query gets to the right team and we’ll respond to you as quickly as we can.

General enquiries: | 0207 104 8000

Research Ethics Committee team:

Confidentiality advice team:

Public involvement team:

Community Committee:

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