Health licensing

Licensed facilities

Private health facilities licensing

In South Australia, private hospitals and private day procedure centres are licensed under the Health Care Act 2008 (the Act) and associated Health Care Regulations 2008 (the Regulations).

Private hospitals are defined in the Act as being an entity (whether corporate or unincorporated and including a partnership or other structure) by which health services are provided, being health services that include services provided to persons on a live-in basis”.

Institutions conducted by or on behalf of the State, including public hospitals and nursing homes, and premises licensed under the Supported Residential Facilities Act 1992 are not included in the definition of private hospital under the Act.

Private day procedure centres provide prescribed health services to patients who are admitted and discharged on the same day. Under the Act a person must not provide a ‘prescribed health service’ at unlicensed premises (maximum penalty: $60,000)

A ‘prescribed health service’ is defined as involving the administration of:

  • 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 Regulations*); or
  • Health services prescribed by the Regulations**

*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.

**There are currently five prescribed classes of health services listed in the Regulations:

  • Cardiac catheterisation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Gastrointestinal endoscopy
  • Renal dialysis
  • Cosmetic surgery

Licence and building applications

Health facility licensing is managed using a single online form which allows users to nominate the purpose of the application. Supporting documentation is required and will be requested during the application. Applicants must obtain written approval from the Minister for Health and Wellbeing’s delegate before any changes such as building works or the provision of new services may commence.

Obtain a new licence

  • This is to obtain a licence for either a new premises or an existing premises that is not currently licensed.
  • It includes premises which are already providing healthcare services, but have not to date required a licence.

Vary an existing licence or conditions

  • This is to alter specific condition(s) in the existing licence of a premises. Please note that building works and changes of service provision are covered by specific applications.
  • Changes applied for here 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

  • This is to change the services provided at existing premises which already hold a licence.
  • Details regarding building works, staffing and other effects of the service change will be prompted in the application.

Transfer an existing licence to a new licensee

  • This is to assign a new licensee to an existing licence.
  • The licence continues to be attached to the same premises and is not transferred between premises.

Alter or extend an existing licenced premises

  • This is to conduct alterations including building works at an existing premises.
  • A licence must already be in effect at that premises.

Facilities are also required to pay a prescribed fee. Details of the current fees can be found on the fees and charges page.

Follow this link to begin an online application to the Health Licensing Unit. 

Timeframe for processing licence and building applications

Applicants are advised to consider these timeframes during their planning process. These timeframes are based on a complete application being submitted by the applicant.

These times are indicative only and will vary depending on the number of applications received at any one time and the size and scope of any proposed new/altered facilities.

  • Two weeks to allow applications to be checked for completeness. An acknowledgement email will be provided.
  • A minimum of two months from the receipt of a complete application to be assessed against the relevant guidelines and standards (including time for liaison with the applicant and any other parties).
  • Applicants must provide a minimum of four weeks advance notification of their preferred inspection date to occur following commissioning. An inspection cannot occur until all furniture, fixtures and equipment are in place.
  • Following a satisfactory inspection, including the submission of all test results, currently licensed facilities must allow a minimum of three weeks from the inspection date for the approval of an alteration/extension application. This application requires written approval from the Minister for Health and Wellbeing’s delegate.
  • Following a satisfactory inspection, including the submission of all test results, new licence applicants must allow a minimum of five weeks from the inspection date for the approval of an alteration/extension application. This application requires written approval from the Minister for Health and Wellbeing’s delegate.

Please refer to the processing of licences page for further details regarding these timeframes.

Application assessment

Applications and architectural plans will be assessed against the Australasian Health Facilities Guidelines, as published by the Australasian Health Infrastructure Alliance, and Infection Control Standards and other relevant standards or guidelines, as applicable (depending on the nature of the services provided).

In addition to the relevant guidelines and standards, the following will be considered:

  • The flow of clients through the service
  • The flow of equipment (dirty/clean) and how it is sterilised and stored
  • Reprocessing of equipment
  • Infection control processes
  • The ability of barouches to fit through doors and extract clients unable to move
  • Access for the ambulance service

Inspections and audits

Upon completion of the building works and following commissioning, SA Health will undertake a site inspection in accordance with section 88 of the Health Care Act 2008 to ensure that the facility has been built in accordance with the approved plans and that it complies with the conditions of all relevant legislation.

This inspection will only occur after the facility has been finished and handed over to the applicant (commissioned). All furniture, fixtures and equipment must be in place for the inspection.

Facilities should ensure that evidence of test results (e.g. air sampling, water quality) and emergency procedures for deteriorating clients are available.

Facilities will be provided with a report following the inspection. Depending on the outcome of the inspection, facilities may be required to take remedial action in response to the findings of the inspection.

Inspections may also be conducted to ensure ongoing compliance of licensing requirements in accordance with SA Health licensing standards and conditions.

The site can only become operational once approval has been provided.

Ongoing compliance requirements

The Health Care Regulations 2008 provides details of the annual returns that must be submitted by private health facilities to SA Health. These returns are due by 30 April each year and SA Health will contact each facility prior to this date to provide further information. Facilities are also required to pay an annual licence fee.

Annual returns are now submitted electronically. All information including supporting documents can be submitted using the online smartform for annual returns.

Facilities must also ensure that they operate in accordance with any specific licence conditions imposed on them.

This includes maintaining accreditation to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.

Review of decisions

Under s87 of the Health Care Act 2008, an applicant or licensee has a right of appeal against a decision or order of the Minister in relation to private hospital licensing.

A right of appeal is handled by the Supreme Court and must be initiated within one month of the decision or order that is being challenged. The Supreme Court has the power to extend that one month period, if it is satisfied that it is just and reasonable in the circumstances to do so.

Commonwealth provider numbers

The Australian Government’s Department of Health manages this process.

Following the issue of a licence, SA Health will advise this department that it has no objection to a provider number being issued to the facility under the Commonwealth Private Health Insurance Act 2007.

If a facility wishes to be declared for private health insurance purposes, they must complete the ‘Private Hospital Information Form’ and submit it to the Australian Government’s Department of Health. The form and further information about the process can be found at the Australian Government’s Department for Health website.


For more information including whether your premises require a private hospital or private day procedure centre licence, please contact the Health Licensing Unit, and their authorised officers will respond to your query.

Phone:(08) 8226 6416