Hospital visiting guidelines updated 20 July 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are no longer acceptable. See our COVID-19 pages for detailed information about hospital visiting guidelines, COVID-19 tests and care in the community advice. See for information about vaccinations.

We are at ORANGE according to the NZ COVID-19 Protection Framework

Last updated:
20 July 2022

Mask exemptions accepted for people seeking treatment
Any member of the public with a mask exemption is welcome in all our facilities when attending to receive health care and *treatment. Please show your mask exemption card and appointment letter to staff at the entrance.

*Treatment includes: coming into the Emergency Department, outpatient appointments,  surgery or a procedure.

For visitors to all facilities effective from Wednesday 20 July 2022

With the recent resurgence in cases in Canterbury, largely due to the Omicron BA.5 subvariant we are seeing an increase in demand right across the health system. Presentations to our Christchurch ED and Ashburton’s AAU are higher than ever and admission rates are high, which means we have a shortage of resourced beds.

Recently, we have seen too many unwell people coming to visit someone in hospital and too many that cannot or will not wear a medical mask. This increases the risk to vulnerable people in hospital. For these reasons we need to everything we can to minimise these risks.

We have therefore tightened visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities.

Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

  • One visitor per patient in the hospital at any given time, except where stated otherwise in the ‘exceptions’ section below.
  • No visitors under 16 to any part of our facilities.
  • No visitors to COVID +ve patients other than in exceptional circumstances.
  • No eating or drinking at the bedside or anywhere other than cafes or areas designated for eating/drinking, as taking your mask off puts patients at risk.
  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (even if they have tested negative) or have had a recent tummy bug.
  • Do not visit if you are COVID +ve or a household contact of someone who has tested positive
  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times at all sites and will be provided if people don’t have them. Mask exemptions do not apply in our facilities – people who cannot tolerate a mask cannot visit at this time.
  • Hand sanitiser stations are visible and must be used.

By sticking to the rules above, you help keep our patients, staff, other visitors and yourself safe. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as our staff work hard to protect and care for some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Exceptions to the ‘one visitor’ policy

  • Exceptions can apply in some circumstances where trusted whānau members provide assistance, reassurance and other support for therapeutic care or on compassionate grounds – please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss this before you come to hospital to visit. For whānau with an essential support role as a Partner in Care – again, please check with the ward’s Charge Nurse before you come to hospital to visit.
  • People attending Christchurch ED or Ashburton AAU can have one support person with them.
  • Women in labour and in the birthing suite can have two named support people + their community LMC/midwife if they have one – for the duration of the birth only. All other women on the Maternity Ward are allowed one support person for the duration of their stay in our facilities at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and other maternity units. Only one support person can be with each woman in the maternity ward, and one support person for maternity clinic appointments. No under 16s are allowed to visit or attend appointments.
  • Parents/caregivers can be with their baby in NICU.
  • Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital (Except Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day patients where only one parent or caregiver is permitted).
  • People requiring support when attending an appointment can have one support person. Please let the relevant service know if you need this so they are able to accommodate your request.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • To avoid them becoming infected with COVID-19 and passing it one, visitors to COVID-19 positive patients will not be allowed except in extenuating circumstances – by prior agreement with the Charge Nurse Manager only, and wearing an N95 mask.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, facetime, zoom etc.

You must NOT visit the hospital if you

  • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case
  • are COVID-19 positive
  • Have a cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you are testing negative for COVID-19)

Exceptions for people with disabilities

An exception will be made for people with disabilities who are in hospital or have to attend an outpatient appointment – where they need a support person to access health services. For example, a sign language interpreter, support person for someone with a learning disability, or someone to assist with mobility. The support person is in addition to the one permitted visitor.

Everyone visiting our facilities must wear a mask, no exceptions

While we appreciate that some people have legitimate reasons for being exempt from wearing a mask and may even have an official card to confirm this, people who cannot or will not wear a mask cannot visit someone in hospital or attend hospital, other than to access healthcare treatment*. This is another measure to minimise the risk to vulnerable patients.

*healthcare treatment includes: Emergency Department care, outpatient appointments, surgery or a procedure. 

Patients and visitors should also read the additional more detailed visiting guidelines for each specific hospital.

More COVID-19 information

The Kings Fund report

Developing accountable care systems: lessons from Canterbury

Introduction from David Meates, former Chief Executive, Canterbury DHB;

“The King's Fund, an acclaimed British health authority, has published a report on the Canterbury health system – Developing accountable care systems: Lessons from Canterbury.

The report provides an account of the transformation of the Canterbury health system, and draws out key lessons for the UK's National ​Health Service (NHS). The Canterbury Health System model of integrated services and collaboration is being used extensively overseas (particularly in NHS England, Scotland, Wales and in Ireland, as well as a number of states in Australia).

I hope you find the report interesting – it is an important read.” ​

The Canterbury Health System has been internationally recognised for its collaboration and integration

The 62-page report, The quest for integrated health and social care: A case study in Canterbury, New Zealand by Nicholas Timmins and Chris Ham from The King's Fund, highlights some of the key achievements and struggles of the Canterbury Health System since it set upon a more integrated pathway in 2007.

The report tells the story of the journey towards Canterbury's goal of providing integrated care for all. The King's Fund report confirms that Canterbury has been doing the right things and in fact rated us higher than we might have expected, comparing us very highly on the international stage.

The report provides in-depth analysis and quotes the key people involved in our journey of transformation. We invited the Kings Fund to put our system under the microscope and asked for a ‘warts and all' assessment of how we are doing.

Key findings from the report

  • The stimulus for change in Canterbury was a health system that was under pressure and beginning to look unsustainable.
  • Canterbury adds to the small stock of examples of organisations and systems that have made the transition from fragmented care towards integrated care with a degree of measurable success.
  • Creating a new system takes time – Canterbury has been working to create ‘one system, one budget' for at least six years and the journey is far from complete.
  • It takes many people to transform a system. A small number of leaders were at the heart of Canterbury's transformation, but this leadership rapidly became collective, shared and distributed.

What others have to say about Canterbury DHB

Karen Brown, Radio New Zealand

Listen to Karen Brown, Health Correspondent for Radio New Zealand's Morning Report talking about The King's Fund's report on integration in the Canterbury Health System.

Health Service Journal (UK)

Health Service Journal – ‘Canterbury Tale – making a success of integrated care'.

British Medical Journal

The British Medical Journal article, published 12 September 2013 ‘Abolishing purchaser-provider split helped New Zealand scheme to cut costs, says King's Fund'.

Mike Bewick, Regional Medical Director, North, and Deputy Medical Director, NHS England

Mike Bewick gives his response to The King's Fund's review of the Canterbury health care system in New Zealand. The review looks at how the Canterbury District Health Board has successfully implemented an integrated care system over the past few years.

Chris Ham and Nick Timmins, The King's Fund

‘It's one thing to advocate the idea of integrated care but quite another to make it work in practice − as Canterbury District Health Board has.' Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund

Researcher Nicholas Timmins and King's Fund chief executive Chris Ham have recognised Canterbury's health system changes on the world stage. See ‘On the right track? How HealthPathways are improving care in Canterbury, New Zealand'.

NZ Trade and Enterprise

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise news article ‘The King's Fund launches report on Canterbury's quest towards integrated care'.

Comment from key people in the Canterbury DHB 

David Meates, former Chief Executive Officer

“Our health system has worked incredibly hard to make it better for people: to cut waste out of the system and improve the patient journey by putting people at the centre of everything we do. The mantra ‘one health system, one budget' is firmly held by everyone who delivers care, whether in the community or a hospital setting.

As the report says ‘this journey of transformation is still incomplete' and it will remain a process.

Innovation, change and courage have been vital elements of our journey to date. We still have some way to go until we are a fully integrated system however, we have made exceptional progress.

Carolyn Gullery, former GM Planning and Funding

“The changes made to the system since 2007 mean that Canterbury now has a system in which good-quality general practice is increasingly keeping patients who do not need to be in hospital out of it; is treating them swiftly once there; and discharging them safely to good community support.

What our experience demonstrates is that it is possible to provide better care for patients, reduce demand on the hospital and flatten, or reduce elements of the demand curve across health care by improved integration – particularly around the interface between the hospital, primary care and community services.”

I was particularly pleased to see our clinical pathways system, Health Pathways, identified in the report as “one of Canterbury's most innovative and most effective changes”.

It's also satisfying to be compared to other “stand out” health care authorities, Jonkoping County Council in Sweden and Intermountain Healthcare in the US, as leading the way.” The Canterbury system has not yet been completely transformed, The King's Fund researchers Nicholas Timmins and Chris Ham say, but Canterbury is well on the way to a truly integrated system.

With our alliances, networks and collaboration, we know our success is all down to people and relationships. I'd like to acknowledge those providing treatment, care and support in, and close to, people's homes, as well as those who are providing specialist and hospital-level care.

While we're not there yet, we have set some milestones for our future direction of travel.

Our health system may be one of the biggest, but it's also one of the most nimble – and we will continue to adapt, flex and innovate to managing the changing landscape ahead.

Dr Nigel Millar, former Chief Medical Officer

“Canterbury is seen as a world leader and hopes it continues on this path. The three enablers have been: vision; sustained investment in staff and how they are utilised.

“Innovation and change in particular has also been an extremely important part of our journey. Incorporating information technology systems, developed collaboratively with our clinicians' input, into the way we do things is key in us making it better for the patient.

“Systems such as Healthpathways, Electronic Request Management System and Shared Care View, are all some of the major innovations to help us on this transformation.”

Further information

Who are The King's Fund?

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. They help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate.

Their vision is that the best possible care is available to all. For more information, video interviews, presentations and commentary, view The King's Fund website.

View The King's Fund presentation

View a presentation on the report’s findings on The King's Fund website

Download The King's Fund report

Download a copy of the 62-page report, The quest for integrated health and social care: A case study in Canterbury, New Zealand by Nicholas Timmins and Chris Ham from The King's Fund.

​The quest for integrated health and social care: A case study in Canterbury, New Zealand 


Page last updated: 25 September 2020

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