The National Health and Medical Research Council describes the difference between research activities, quality assurance activities and research exemption.

Read more in the Ethical considerations in quality assurance and evaluation activities.

Temporary pause of all research submissions

Due to critical workload issues resulting from a rapid increase in research activity in 2024 at CHHHS, the decision has been made to pause HREC and research governance submissions for all new applications from 1 July to 30 September 2024. Researchers wishing to submit new projects for ethics review during this time are encouraged to submit to one of the National Mutual Acceptance (NMA) certified HRECs available on the NHMRC website.

All post approval and post authorisation submissions including amendments, progress reports and safety reports will be accepted during this time, however there will be a delay in the provision of feedback/approval.

Many thanks in advance for your support and understanding. Please contact for queries or further information.


This process is for projects seeking to improve health service delivery and improving patient and population outcomes. Projects that usually fall under this category assess how efficient a service is.

This may include assessing practices against a procedure, standard or guideline or it may be to identify gaps in a service. Some consumer and staff survey project work can also be applied for.

The QA vs Research Decision Tool (PDF, 188KB) should assist you to determine the correct review pathway for your project. Please also review the Ethical Considerations in Quality Assurance and Evaluation Activities guide (PDF, 157KB) from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for further information.

Publishing your findings

If you apply using this process, you'll be able to publish your findings externally to Queensland Health. Confidential patient information and all data must be aggregated and completely unidentifiable at the time of publication.

If your Queensland Health project includes images of staff or patients in a publication or presentation, you’ll also need to show you have their consent.

You can do this by filling in a photo and video consent form and having it approved by the relevant health service communications team. If you can't access the form get in touch.

The application process

Step 1. Design your research protocol

Design your research protocol first as you'll need to submit this with your application.

Your quality assurance (QA) study plan will include details on:

  • the activities you plan to include in the project
  • evidence from other projects that supports these activities
  • your preliminary investigations that support these activities
  • your timelines
  • how you plan to deal with potential problems.

Use our guide to writing a QA study plan (PDF, 347KB) and QA study plan template (DOC, 57.7KB).

Step 2. Complete your application forms

You need to complete an application form for each hospital and health service site of your project.

If your activity takes place in both the Cairns and Hinterland and Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Services, you'll need to complete both application forms.

This is a local requirement. Please submit this document as part of your application.

Step 3. Prepare your supporting documents

You'll need to submit the following documents for QA activity approval using the Ethical Review Manager (ERM) online platform .

The Quality Assurance Information Sheet (PDF, 1.1MB) and Quality Assurance submission checklist (PDF, 201KB) will help you keep track of the documents you need for your application.

Required documents

  1. Cover letter
  2. QA application form – this is a local HHS specific form
  3. QLD Exemption Form (QA application form) - generated in ERM
  4. QA study plan
  5. Data collection tool
  6. Abridged CV for each team member

Supporting documents

You only need to provide this information if it's relevant to your project.


Step 3. Submit your application

  1. Submit your application in the ERM using the QA Exemption form
  2. Send a hard copy of your application to the HREC Coordinator
  3. Email a copy of your application to

You’ll need to submit your quality assurance activity application online using the ERM.

Read the ERM how-to guides.

Next steps

The review time frame for QA activity applications is about seven to ten business days and largely depends on the Chair availability to review your application.

Once you’ve submitted your application and the QLD Exemption Form in the ERM, you’ll get an email letting you know the outcome. You can use this email and any attachments to publish information about your project external to CHHHS/Queensland Health.

If you’re not planning on publishing the results of your project outside of your department or CHHHS/Queensland Health, you don’t need to apply for an exemption from full ethics review. You can register your quality assurance activity with the Patient Quality and Safety Team by emailing

Last updated: July 2024