In many countries, any research in the health care system requires approval from national ethics bodies. There are differences in the statutory requirements for what is required for qualitative research. Here are links to national websites for applying for health research ethics approval:

UK NHS Ethics

Australia health research

Canada Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada’s Ethics Review Board

A useful site on issues around involving the public and users in research is Guy’s and
St Thomas’ NHS Trust and King’s College London (2010) 

Involving users in the research process NIHR