In NSW private hospitals and day procedure centres are licensed under the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 and Regulation. Private health facilities are defined in that Act as being premises at which patients are admitted, provided with medical, surgical or other prescribed treatment and then discharged, or premises at which patients are provided with prescribed services or treatments. Institutions conducted by or on behalf of the State, including public hospitals, and nursing homes are not included in the definition of private health facilities under the Act.
Private health facilities must provide for the accommodation of one or more of the following groups:
Private health facilities must meet all the general licensing standards set out in Schedule 1 of the Private Health Facilities Regulation 2017 and any associated licensing standards that apply to each class of the facility as detailed in Schedule 2 of the Regulation.
There are currently 19 prescribed classes of health services. Facilities can be licensed for more than one class of health service:
To obtain a licence applicants must submit a completed application form together with the required documents and payment to the Secretary, NSW Health. Applications are assessed against the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 and Private Health Facilities Regulation 2017 with particular reference to the Australasian Health Facilities Guidelines.
An Approval in Principle will be issued under section 7 of the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 after satisfactory assessment that the applicant is a fit and proper person to operate a private health facility, consultation with the relevant Local Health District and other relevant Branches of the NSW Ministry of Health has taken place, and proper consideration has been given to any submissions received from third parties. The Approval in Principle will contain conditions that must be met before the licence will be issued.
An Approval in Principle is valid for twelve months and is not transferable although an extension can be sought under certain conditions.
If an Approval in Principle is refused written advice stating the reason for the refusal and giving details on how to seek a review will be provided.
Before a licence is issued a commissioning inspection will be carried out to ensure that the facility has been built in accordance with the approved plans and that it complies with the conditions of the Approval in Principle and all relevant legislation. At that inspection all building, fire and other relevant certification will be required. Following successful commissioning a licence will be issued, endorsed for specific classes and services as specified on the application.
More information about the licensing process is available. The indicative timeframes for the processing of licences for new private health facilities are also available, together with the "stop the clock" provisions that may arise to delay the process.
It should be noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the Ministry’s ability to achieve performance within approved timeframes and undertake private health facilities onsite visits.
In September 2011, the Australian Health Ministers took a significant step towards improving Australia’s health system by endorsing the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NSQHS Standards) and a national accreditation scheme.
Since January 2013 public hospitals across Australia have been required to be accredited to the NSQHS Standards. Although private hospitals in NSW are not required to be accredited to the Standards it is a condition of the licence to operate a private health facility in NSW that every facility engages with the National Standards and Accreditation Scheme.
From January 2019 there are eight NSQHS standards that were developed following consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including health professionals and patients. The standards aim to improve the quality of health service provisions and protect the public from harm.
The incorporation of the National Standards into the existing Regulatory Regime is facilitated in three ways. The terms of the Standards are generally parallel with the NSW regulatory regime and licensing standards so that they are covered by existing NSW regulatory systems, as a condition of their licence each facility is required to engage with the National Accreditation Scheme and the Ministry of Health receives data on the outcomes of the accreditation processes enabling the Ministry to respond to emerging issues and oversee compliance.
More information about the NSQHS Standards and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) is available.
Under the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 Part 2 Division 5 an applicant who is dissatisfied with the Secretary, NSW Health's decision to refuse an application, or determination in relation to the class of facility, the number of patients at a facility or an amendment to a licence can apply to the Minister for a review of the decision. The application must be made within 30 days of the decision and be in a form approved by the Minister. On receipt of an application for review the Minister will establish a Committee of Review.
The Committee of Review will investigate the decision of the Secretary, NSW Health and report back to the Minister with a recommendation, giving reasons for the recommendation. The Minister, may after having regard to the recommendation of the Committee of Review either confirm the original decision, revoke the original decision, or direct such other action under the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 as the Minister considers appropriate.
The Secretary may also suspend or cancel a licence for a private health facility. Where this occurs the licensee can apply to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal for a review of the decision to suspend or cancel the licence. An application to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal must be made within 30 days after the notice of the decision was served on the licensee.
There was no request for a review of any decision during 2020.