Working with hospitals

A focus on research of an international quality and the fostering of an outstanding research culture have positioned UWA as one of the best universities in Australia and in the top 150 in the world.

Human Ethics Resources

Clinical Trials

Policies And Advisory Notes
Research projects which interact with hospitals in any state of Australia must work within the frameworks set out by each state’s health services.

There are several aspects to this:

  • Most hospitals, including many in WA, do not recognise human research ethics approval from universities. Hospitals expect research projects to apply for ethics review to the hospital's own HREC, or to a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) that has been certified by NHMRC. This requirement is driven by each hospital’s duty of care to its patients who in many cases are vulnerable people requiring special ethical consideration.
  • Smaller hospitals may not have their own HREC, these might accept UWA ethics approval. However, you still need to ensure you have the approval of the hospital's Medical Advisory Board or other oversight committee responsible for research.
  • If you obtain a research ethics approval from a hospital The University of Western Australia will most likely accept that approval and not require an additional University review. However, a project team should not assume automatic recognition. Please contact our Human Ethics office if there is any doubt: email or phone 6488-4703.
  • Hospital HRECs will sometimes grant ethics approval to work in all of the hospitals under their jurisdiction. Sometimes they will provide it only for one hospital, or a sub-set of hospitals, in their jurisdiction. It is vital that you take careful note of which hospitals you have approval to work with, and obtain additional review and approval from any other hospital sites you plan to work with.
  • Often, a hospital ethics approval will include a requirement to obtain "Site Specific Approval" or similar wording, for hospitals inside or outside their jurisdiction. You then need to contact each hospital and check with each site’s research governance section to determine exactly what you need to do to obtain approval. These approvals should be in writing or email from each hospital’s research governance office.
  • If your research project plans to work at a hospital AND at a UWA administered site, please make it clear in your application for review that you are asking for the review to include the UWA site.
  • While the information above is about working with hospital patients, you might need to follow a very similar process to do low-risk research, for example surveys and interviews with hospital staff.
  • The above applies in general for all states of Australia. However, processes and terminology vary between the states. You must ensure you have explicit approval for every hospital you plan to work with, and the hospitals will expect you to work precisely within the approved protocol and procedures.
  • A good resource for learning about, and obtaining, hospital approvals in WA is available at: WA Health's Research Governance Service (RGS). Here are starting points for information for each state:

Questions, suggestions and comments can be sent to:

Dr Mark Dixon
Associate Director, Research Ethics and Integrity
M459, Office of Research Enterprise
Phone: +61 8 6488-7613