Private health facilities licensing

When does a private health facility need to be licensed?

In South Australia, private health facilities must be licensed if they are:

  • A private hospital which requires overnight stay as part of the health service; or
  • A private day procedure centre (which admits and discharges patients on the same day) who is providing ‘prescribed health services’.

What are prescribed health services?

Under the Health Care Act 2008 (‘HC Act’), ‘prescribed health services’ involves:

  • General, spinal, epidural or major regional block anaesthetic; or
  • Intravenous sedation (only if greater than ‘conscious sedation’); or
  • Local anaesthetic (except provided by a general practitioner, or in general dentistry practice, or excluded by the Health Care Regulations 2008* (‘HC Regs’);

And the following health services prescribed by the HC Regs:

*Under the Regulations, health practitioners registered with a national board and authorised under law to administer local anaesthetic are excluded from the requirement to only perform local anaesthetic procedures in a licensed facility. Topical local anaesthetic is also excluded.

Providing prescribed health services from unlicensed premises is a breach of the HC Act.

How do I apply for a private health facility licence?

A licensing application, accompanied by the prescribed fee, will be assessed in two stages:

1. Design Approval

Building works should not commence before design approval is granted. The application including architectural plans (1:100 scale) is assessed against the Australasian Health Facility Guidelines, which are the constructions standards gazetted by the Minister. Plans will be reviewed by an architect and health facility licensing officers for:

  • Flow of patients through the floor plan of the facility service;
  • Flow of equipment and waste from delivery to disposal (‘dirty’ to ‘clean’ spaces);
  • Reprocessing and storage of reusable medical devices;
  • Infection control processes and risks;
  • Emergency evacuation of patients on stretchers through doorways, and
  • Confirmation the building height/width achieve the required clearances for state ambulance vehicles, and there is adequate carpark and stretcher access to premises.

Design approval will not be granted until after fit and proper person checks are completed. Design approval lapses after 1 year (if no building works commence) or 3 years (if building works are incomplete) unless an extension has been requested and approved.

2. Issue of licence

After building works are completed, a site inspection is completed to confirm the facility was constructed according to the approved plans and building class in the Australasian Health Facility Guidelines (AusHFG). A licence will not be issued until a satisfactory inspection report, completion of any remedial work (to meet AusHFG) and review of commissioning documents e.g., building certification, medical gas testing.

To be ‘declared’ for private health insurance purposes, a facility must also apply to the Commonwealth Department for Health and submit the requested paperwork. Following the issue of a licence in South Australia, SA Health advises the Commonwealth that a provider number can be issued under the Private Health Insurance Act 2007 (Commonwealth).

Timeframes for licensing assessments decisions

Application submitted

  • 2 weeks to confirm application is complete/issue invoice

Design Approval

  • 2 months (minimum)

Design Approval Lapses

  • 1 year (if building works have not commenced)
  • 3 years (if building works are not completed)

Request for Information

  • 28 days is added to the assessment timeframe each time.

Site inspection

  • 4-6 weeks prior notice by applicant for an inspection visit.

Approval to issue Licence submitted to Minister’s delegate

  • Up to 28 days: after a site inspection, and commission document review (longer when remedial actions are required).

Licensed private health facilities in South Australia

When does a licensed private health facility need to apply for approval to make changes?

Under the HC Act, licensed private health facilities require prior written approval from the Minister or delegate before altering premises, changing services, varying or transferring the licence or providing prescribed health services at separate premises from a licensed private hospital. Making changes without prior approval is a breach of the HC Act. These approvals can be applied for by paying the prescribed fee.

Alter or extend an existing licenced premises

  • Alterations or extensions to premises, including capital works.
  • Design approval is granted for 1 year (to commence) and 3 years to complete.
  • A site inspection is required to confirm alterations were carried out in accordance to plans ‘design approved’ against the Australasian Health Facility Guidelines.
  • Approval to use altered premises will not be granted until after a satisfactory inspection report, completion of remedial actions and commissioning review.

Note: The timeframes for approving alterations are equivalent to the timeframes for design approval and site inspections of a new licence.

Vary an existing licence or conditions

  • To alter condition(s) in the existing licence of a premises.
  • Changes applied for may include the name of the premises, or the name of the licensee (where the licensee remains the same entity but changes only its name).

Change the services provided under an existing licence

  • To change/add new services provided at existing licensed premises.
  • If the change to services also requires an ‘alteration to premises’ application, one application fee will apply, which is the ‘alteration to premises’ fee.

Transfer an existing licence to a new licensee, or transfer controlling interest

  • To assign a new licence holder to an existing licensed premise.
  • Licences are attached to a premise and cannot be transferred between premises
  • Fitness and proper person checks are required prior to approving a transfer of licence.
  • An application to notify the Minister is required for a transfer of controlling interest.

Ongoing compliance

Annual returns and annual licensing fees are due by 30 April and must be submitted with evidence of accreditation against the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards. Failure to submit the annual return or pay the prescribed fee is a breach of the HC Act and a written order can be applied.

Right of appeal against a decision or order of the Minister

Under s87, and s89I, of the HC Act, an applicant or licensee has a right of appeal against a decision or order of the Minister.


Clinical Regulation Policy & Licensing can be emailed at or contacted by telephone on (08) 8226 6416.