Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury makes changes to visitor policy to protect vulnerable patients
To ease pressure on the health system and protect vulnerable and older patients, from tomorrow morning, 7am 20 July, temporary changes to Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury’s visitor policy take effect at the district’s hospitals and health centres.
During the past two weeks, there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases on top of other respiratory illnesses – resulting in a larger proportion of our population and health workforce unwell or looking after whānau at home. While this isn’t unexpected in winter, we are seeing a far greater impact, earlier than usual, across hospitals and primary care.
Becky Hickmott, Incident Management Controller for the Omicron outbreak says that to protect our vulnerable patients, we are tightening our visitor restrictions and enforcing a ‘no mask, no entry’ policy.
“Children and young people under the age of 16 will not be allowed into Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury facilities, unless the visit is prearranged on compassionate grounds. This is because medical masks are less likely to fit under 16s well and children are less likely to be able to wear them correctly for the duration of a visit. Anyone who looks like they might be under 16, but isn’t, should bring some photo ID with them as proof of age.
“From tomorrow morning you will need to mask up and keep your mask on at all times while inside any of our facilities, and we have increased the minimum age of visitors to one person aged 16 or over to visit each patient,” Ms Hickmott says.
Visiting hours for Christchurch Hospital are also being reduced to between 3 and 8pm to allow patients more time to rest and recover and ease pressure on health workers, with a significant proportion of the workforce currently unwell or looking after whānau at home due to COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. Entry to Canterbury hospitals and health centres will be via main entrances only.
“Given we expect sustained pressure on health services to continue throughout winter, it will help if everyone does their bit to help us get through the cooler months. Our best protection this winter is to be up to date with influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations, which can help reduce the need for hospitalisation, along with the other precautions of staying home when sick, getting tested when you have flu-like symptoms, wearing masks as directed, and regularly washing hands.”
No visiting patients with COVID-19
You must NOT visit our facilities if you
Full details of the new visitors’ rules, including exceptions, will be published on our website at midnight tonight.
A reminder to everyone that you can now pick up supplies of free RATs and masks from community testing centres and participating pharmacies. You don’t need to have symptoms to get free RATs. Wherever possible please order online at https://requestrats.covid19.health.nz/ or by calling 0800 222 478.
Please check Healthpoint for a list of participating pharmacies as not all pharmacies can distribute free RATs. You can find your nearest community based testing/RAT and mask collection centres here P2/N95 masks are available for people who are at higher risk of hospitalisation if they get COVID-19.
More COVID-19 vaccine options
For adults aged 18 and over who wish to have a different COVID-19 booster vaccine option, Novavax and AstraZeneca are now available to book as a second booster at least six months after a first booster.
While Pfizer continues to be the preferred vaccine, the alternative boosters will be available from 14 July for priority groups. You can find the eligibility criteria here: https://www.health.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/covid-19-vaccine-boosters. Second boosters are free and are important for our most vulnerable people as we go through winter. Staying up to date with the recommended COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to protect you from the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation or death from COVID-19.
Check out https://vaccinatecanterburywestcoast.nz/ to see where you can receive these vaccines. AstraZeneca boosters require a prescription and you can get this for free either from a GP or from a participating vaccination centre.
It’s also time to see if you are winter ready and ensure your other vaccinations are up to date such as flu and MMR (measles). Your family doctor can help, and many vaccinations can be done at your local pharmacy.
If you’re in Christchurch, join us at our community vaccination events and stay for kai, colouring competitions and spot prizes. You can get both COVID-19 and MMR vaccinations if you need them. Free flu vaccinations are also available for those in the eligible groups. Check if you’re eligible here: https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/influenza/flu-influenza-vaccines/getting-flu-jab
Help us help you, by going to the right place for your health care needs
Multiple winter illnesses continue to place pressure on our Canterbury health system, with general practices, pharmacies, urgent care facilities and our Emergency Department all stretched to capacity and beyond. Te Whatu Ora, Canterbury is appealing to the public to help take some of the pressure off our system by seeking the right care in the right place at the right time.
“Our COVID-19 case numbers remain very high in Canterbury. This is impacting our GP teams and pharmacies as they continue to manage high numbers of sick patients, with fewer staff because they too are unwell. Urgent care and Emergency such as ambulance and the ED are feeling the strain of this sustained demand too,” says Becky Hickmott, Senior Responsible Officer for Winter Planning, COVID-19.
“Te Whatu Ora, Canterbury still has on average 200 staff off every day with COVID-19 and similar numbers with flu-like illnesses, and there are still more than a thousand new COVID-19 cases each day and more than 6000 active cases, which is why we are asking the public to do what they can to stay well in the first instance and to please stay home if they are only mildly unwell.”
“It’s also really important you go to the right place to get the care you need, so that ED and urgent care isn’t tied up with minor illnesses that could be managed safely at home with a little TLC, plenty of fluids and a couple of paracetamol. That way, those crucial services will be available for those that really need them and everyone will be seen sooner.”
Vaccination and healthy habits are the best protection against the viruses circulating this winter. We’ve all learnt some great habits over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as vaccination, wearing masks, physical distancing, and increasing ventilation when indoors. These measures will help protect us as we face influenza and other viral diseases. By having all your vaccinations and staying well this winter, you’ll help keep health services free for those who need urgent care.
“You can get all of these vaccinations (COVID-19, influenza and MMR) at the same time if you need them.”
“I would like to emphasise that if you are very unwell, we do want to see you at the Emergency Department. We want to reassure our community that the emergency and acute care you need will always be available for those that really need them. All we are asking is that you save ED for Emergencies, don’t go to urgent care if it’s not urgent, and look after yourself if you can.”
Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health unit has lifted its algal bloom health warning issued along the Rakahuri/Ashley River at Rangiora-Loburn Bridge (Cones Road).
Recent cyanobacteria surveys of the Rakahuri/Ashley River has shown the cover of potentially toxic algae (benthic cyanobacteria) in the river has reduced and is now below levels that are of concern to public health.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Cheryl Brunton says Environment Canterbury’s monitoring of the Rakahuri/Ashley River will resume next summer when there is increased likelihood of cyanobacteria growth.
Facts about cyanobacteria:
For further information visit:
Or contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777:
For more information about Mahinga Kai:
New COVID-19 testing centre opens in Wigram from 10am Tuesday 22 Feb
To help meet high public demand for testing, an additional drive-through COVID-19 testing site has been set up at the Old Wigram Fire Station on the corner of Mustang and Sioux Avenues – entrance off Sioux Avenue.
Opening hours initially are from 10am-3pm, seven days a week, but hours will be increased as needed and staff become available. This facility is drive-through only.
Incident Controller for the Canterbury health system’s Omicron outbreak response, Tracey Maisey says demand has understandably spiked over the past few days as the number of community cases has risen.
“We’d like to thank the public for their patience in the face of some long waiting times over the past few days – and we’re pleased to be able to respond to that strong demand by opening an additional testing centre.”
“Please continue to be patient and please also remember that we will only test people with symptoms or who have been confirmed as close contacts. We encourage people to continue to step forward to get tested, but only if they meet those criteria.”
Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health unit has issued a health warning after potentially toxic blue-green algae (planktonic cyanobacteria) was found in Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere).
People should avoid the Lake and animals, particularly dogs, should not be allowed near the water until the health warning has been lifted.
The type of cyanobacteria that is currently present in high concentrations is Nodularia spumigena which can appear as a thick surface scum.
Dr Cheryl Brunton Canterbury Medical Officer of Health says, the algal bloom can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals.
“People should avoid contact with the water until further notice.
“Exposure may cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips. If you experience any of these symptoms visit your doctor immediately and please let your doctor know if you have had contact with the lake water,” Dr Brunton says.
No one should drink the water from the lake at any time. Boiling the water does not remove the toxin.
Animals that show signs of illness after coming into contact with algal mats or scums should be taken to a vet immediately.
Fish and shellfish can concentrate toxins and their consumption should be avoided. If fish are eaten, remove the gut and liver and wash in clean water. Further information on gathering Mahinga Kai can be obtained below.
“When a bloom of potentially toxic cyanobacteria is present in a lake, there is a possibility of cyanobacteria and toxins being transported into connected water bodies. At low river flows the bloom may extend upstream into the lower reaches of the Selwyn River.
Environment Canterbury monitors the lake weekly during summer and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality that are of public health significance.
Facts about cyanobacteria:
For further details visit: https://www.lawa.org.nz/explore-data/canterbury-region/
Or contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777:
For more information about Mahinga Kai:
Under the RED setting, it’s business as usual with surgery and outpatient appointments going ahead, and only minor changes expected for visiting hours – these will be finalised tomorrow and posted on Canterbury DHB’s website.
Senior Responsible Officer for COVID-19 in Canterbury, Dr Helen Skinner, said while there’s no cases of Omicron in the community, the key change for anyone entering any DHB facility tomorrow will be the need to wear a paper surgical/medical mask.
“We know these paper masks are more effective than a fabric mask or cloth face covering, and this is something we can all do to help protect our vulnerable patients and ourselves.
“We ask that people pay particular attention to physical distancing as well. In practice that means staying at least one metre away from anyone not in your household,” Dr Skinner said.
Canterbury DHB is also advising all its staff (clinical and non-clinical) to wear surgical masks, with N-95s for clinical staff in certain areas.
Boosters are key to provide maximum protection
If it’s four or more months since you had your second dose, please prioritise getting a booster as soon as possible. Boosters provide a significantly higher level of protection than two doses alone. People aged over 60 who have had their booster are around 45 times less likely to be hospitalised than an unvaccinated person of the same age.
You can book at www.BookMyVaccine.nz Many clinics are taking walk-ins, please note that demand is high and there may be a wait. Local clinic information, including opening hours is available at www.VaccinateCanterburyWestCoast.nz
Vaccinations are now available for children aged five and over at selected clinics – these are outlined at www.VaccinateCanterburyWestCoast.nz
While we have no cases of Omicron in Canterbury at present we need to stick to the rules: wearing a mask every time you go out and are with people outside your own household; keeping track of where you’ve been using the QR codes provided and having Bluetooth turned on, so you receive alerts, and using your MyVaccinePass when required.
For more information about what to do at Red, the Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) website has useful information on being prepared to self-isolate at home if someone in your household tests positive.
“Now’s the time to make a plan, make sure everyone knows it, and ensure you have everything you need at home to be self-sufficient for at least a couple of weeks,” Dr Skinner said. “And please check in with your neighbours, people who live alone and those with disabilities to see how they are doing.
“It’s important to remember that with Omicron, most people who are fully vaccinated (two doses + a booster) will have a mild illness and be able to recover safely at home. Our focus will be on supporting those who are more vulnerable and have underlying health conditions.
The planning checklist every household should complete can be found here and the Canterbury Care in the Community web pages provide useful information and advice on what to consider when isolating at home with COVID-19.
Tips for wearing a surgical/paper mask:
Change your mask
Public access to Canterbury DHB facilities under the ‘traffic light' system at ORANGE
Canterbury DHB has not made any changes to its visitor restrictions under the orange traffic light setting of the new national COVID-19 Protection Framework. However, the orange traffic light setting does change how business is conducted at cafés and other retail outlets in DHB facilities.
Dr Helen Skinner, Senior Responsible Officer for the COVID-19 response for Canterbury DHB says these are tough times for us all as we get used to new systems, but we are all in this together and the new COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system) has been introduced to protect us all. Health staff are here to help, so please be kind and considerate, and respect one another and the rules.
“There will be some changes when you visit, mainly to retail outlets and cafés at our facilities. Burwood Travis Courtyard Café is the only Canterbury DHB café that will be checking My Vaccine Passes and can therefore retain public seating areas. All others will either have contactless takeaway food and coffee available and have seats removed, or are now closed to the public.
“This is a good opportunity to remind people that healthcare is for all. You do not need proof of vaccination to enter any of our facilities as a visitor or service-user. Everybody, vaccinated or unvaccinated, will receive the care they need.
“Please don’t visit the hospital if you don’t need to. Fewer visitors means less chance that COVID-19 will spread to vulnerable patients and staff.”
Cafés and other retail outlets in our DHB facilities
Franchised or independently-owned businesses such as community pharmacies, florists, hairdressers, volunteers’ shops etc. will have a set of rules that apply under the traffic light system and will manage appropriate access by staff and members of the public.
Here is a summary of the rules for access to cafés in DHB facilities from today:
Great Escape Café: Open to staff only, ID badges required as proof of full vaccination
Willow Lane, Waipapa: Contactless pick-ups only – no seating, no My Vaccine Pass checks
Kanuka, Christchurch Outpatients: Contactless pick-ups only – no seating, no My Vaccine Pass checks, no eating or drinking in the waiting area seating
PeaBerry Waipapa: Contactless pick-ups only – no seating, no My Vaccine Pass checks, no eating or drinking in the waiting area seating
Parkside and Christchurch Women’s Hospital Cafés: Contactless pick-ups only – no seating, no My Vaccine Pass checks
Hillmorton Avon Café: Open to staff only, no My Vaccine Pass checks
Ashburton Hospital Café: Open to staff only, no My Vaccine Pass checks
Burwood Travis Courtyard Café: Only staff wearing ID badges and members of the public who scan their My Vaccine Pass can be served.
Visiting DHB facilities
Visiting rules haven’t changed with the move to the orange setting under the new ‘traffic light’ system. Visitors who are unwell should not be entering our facilities, unless they need emergency care.
The following visitor restrictions are in place for all Canterbury DHB hospitals and health facilities, to protect vulnerable patients:
Park and Ride
The hospital shuttle service from the Deans Ave car park is running as normal.
There is further guidance and restrictions in place at individual facilities. Full details of further changes to visiting at other Canterbury DHB facilities, including café, are available on our website .
If you have COVID-19 symptoms – no matter how mild, please get a test.
If you are unwell and need to see a doctor you should call your usual GP team for advice 24/7. For general health information visit: https://www.healthinfo.org.nz/.
Canterbury DHB does not charge for COVID-19 vaccinations. If anyone asks for money, it's a scam.
Police have received reports of two people going door-to-door in Christchurch offering COVID-19 vaccinations for a fee
This is not a legitimate service. Anyone approached in this manner should call 105 immediately.
The following statement has been issued by the Ministry of Health, 19 September 2021
Covid-19 Vaccinations are being offered free to every eligible New Zealander who chooses to receive them. All vaccinations are being led by locally by District Health Boards and are delivered by healthcare service providers in their communities, such as GPs, pharmacies, whanau ora and other legitimate providers.
Therefore, anyone trying to charge for vaccinations, or arriving unannounced and going door to door claiming to be from the Ministry of Health and offering vaccinations is not legitimate. This is a scam and should be reported to Police.
While in some cases, home vaccinations may be being offered by DHBs for those unable to make it to a clinic, this would not occur without prior contact from their healthcare provider.
Remember, COVID-19 vaccinations are completely free.
Free COVID testing is also available through many General Practices as well as at Community-based Testing Centres in Canterbury
Canterbury Health Laboratories, part of Canterbury DHB, processed more than 4000 COVID-19 test swabs yesterday – a record for local testing. This included swabs taken at the drop-in CBTCs (community-based testing centres) and in general practice.
Dr Helen Skinner, Senior Responsible Officer for the COVID-19 response, Canterbury DHB says this is a great cross-system response that will help keep Canterbury people safe by discovering any community cases of COVID-19 early and allowing contact-tracing to respond quickly if needed.
“I’d like to emphasise though, that there are no cases of COVID-19 in our community and none being treated in any Canterbury DHB facility at this time. We’d very much like to keep it that way, and I would like to thank our Canterbury public for playing their part by sticking to the Alert Level 4 rules and stepping up to get tested when they have symptoms, or if they have been to one of the locations of interest.”
“We know and acknowledge that there have been longer waits for testing than we would have liked this week. We are doing all we can to meet the unprecedented demand while continuing our drive to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Be kind to one another and to our dedicated staff who are there to help you and have been working long hours, on the front line and behind the scenes, to get things done,” Dr Skinner says.
As well as at our Community-based Testing Centres, testing is also available across general practice teams, with some having significant capacity currently. People can see call their own General Practice and ask, or see the list below for which practices are testing over the weekend, and their opening times. Note, some are only testing patients who are enrolled there or by appointment.
COVID-19 Community Based Testing Centres (CBACs) in Christchurch and Canterbury
No on-demand or walk-in COVID-19 testing is being carried out at Christchurch Hospital.
General Practice and Urgent Care Testing available this weekend (Saturday 21- Sunday 22 August)
Rural After Hours Services – Testing available by appointment only (Saturday 21- Sunday 22 August)
More information on testing is here and if you save the link you will be able to check for changes: https://www.cdhb.health.nz/your-health/canterbury-dhb-covid-19-information/#4
Masks or face coverings must be worn at all times at Canterbury DHB sites and will be provided if people don’t have them. There are exceptions for people who have conditions or a disability that makes wearing a face covering inappropriate. The new rules for masks that apply nationwide are here. Hand sanitiser stations are available and should also be used.
Please scan in using the QR code, wherever you go using the government’s COVID-19 Tracer App, and ensure Bluetooth is turned on within the app – this means you’ll receive alerts if you’ve been exposed to a case.
Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health unit has lifted its algal bloom health warning issued for Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.
Recent water testing at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere has shown the quantity of potentially toxic blue-green algae (planktonic cyanobacteria) in the lake has reduced and concentrations are now below levels that are of concern to public health.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Cheryl Brunton says Environment Canterbury’s sampling of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere will continue on a monthly basis.
“The public will be informed if testing shows that concentrations have increased and there is a risk to public health again,” Dr Brunton says.
Facts about cyanobacteria:
For further information visit
or contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777:
For more information about Mahinga Kai:
Executive Director of Nursing for Canterbury DHB, Becky Hickmott says “If you have a family member or support someone who will be in hospital on the day of the strike, you are welcome to spend extra time with them between 11am until 7pm this Wednesday, 9 June, when many NZNO members (nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants) across New Zealand will be on strike.”
“You’d also be most welcome to help with non-clinical tasks, but being there to support and reassure your family member or the person you support is the most important thing,” she says.
Hospital-based services in Canterbury will be severely affected but the Emergency Department, maternity services, emergency surgery, cancer care, the Renal Dialysis Unit and ambulances will all be operating.
While our focus will be on minimising the impact on patients, lower staffing levels will slow things down. Our staff would greatly appreciate your patience and understanding at this time.
If you are unwell in Canterbury but it isn’t urgent phone your usual General Practice team for advice, day or night. Otherwise, access urgent care and emergency services as you usually would during the strike period.
Phone numbers for Canterbury Hospitals and Health Centres can be found here:
Canterbury DHB is contacting individuals affected by a coding error in the software used in a local Canterbury appointment system used to book family members of border and MIQ workers for their COVID-19 vaccination.
This potentially allowed those invited to make appointments to view details about other individuals also making appointments, including name, gender, age, phone number and NHI number but no personal health information.
The appointment system was taken offline immediately once the error became known and remains offline until the issue is rectified and the system thoroughly tested.
Over the weekend the DHB is contacting all those potentially affected to apologise and inform them of the actions now being taken.
The key concern of many of those contacted was that their booked vaccinations would go ahead as planned – which they will. A relatively small number of people were understandably upset.
At this stage, there is no evidence of any malicious breach, further access to this information or sharing of it.
Individuals with questions or concerns about the booking system coding error should in the first instance ring Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
A national booking system, using different software to Canterbury’s interim booking system is currently being developed by the Ministry of Health to support scaling up of the vaccine programme.
The Ministry of Health made two media statements on this issue which can be viewed online at www.health.govt.nz/news-media
Chief Executive Peter Bramley talks about the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme which starts with vaccinating the vaccinators themselves and border and MIQ workers. There is also a recap on the actions we all need to take to stay safe.
Other stories include the work of the Pressure Injury Prevention Advisory Group, one about our high-performing supply team, a fantastic initiative in ISG to promote blood donation and as always you can read about how people truly appreciate the care you provide in this week’s Bouquets.
You can read the Canterbury DHB CEO Update in two different formats:
PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING – SMOKE FROM FIRE IN RACECOURSE ROAD NEAR AMBERLEY
Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health unit has issued a public health warning for smoke from the fire located in Racecourse Road near Amberley.
Air around this location is smoky and there is potential that people who are sensitive to smoke – such as those with heart or lung conditions, pregnant women, young children and the elderly – may experience symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath or eye, nose and throat irritation.
Tyre Fire – Sulphur Dioxide
The main contaminant from fires involving tyres is sulphur dioxide which can cause respiratory problems such as bronchitis, and can irritate your nose, throat and lungs. It may cause coughing, wheezing, phlegm and asthma attacks. The effects are worse when you are exercising. Sulphur dioxide has been linked to cardiovascular disease.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink says exposure to smoke can worsen pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
“People affected by the smoke should close windows and doors, and reduce outdoor exercise.
“Anyone experiencing health issues from the Racecourse Road fire should phone their usual general practice team in the first instance,” Dr Pink says.
After hours you can call your usual practice number 24/7 and follow the instructions to be put through to an nurse for free health advice.
What to do when it’s smoky outside
If you see or smell smoke outside, you should stay inside if it’s safe to do so.
For further information, contact:
Effective from 29 January, Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health unit has issued a health warning for Hakatere/Ashburton River at Hills Road
The warning follows finding a moderate to high cover of potentially toxic algae (benthic cyanobacteria) in the Hakatere/Ashburton River at Hills Road
People should avoid the area and animals, particularly dogs, should not be allowed near the water until the health warning has been lifted.
There are also other access points along the Hakatere/Ashburton River at Hills Road that may have benthic cyanobacteria present. People are advised to treat every low-flowing river cautiously, check for the presence of benthic cyanobacteria and avoid contact.
Dr Ramon Pink Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says the algae look like dark brown to black mats and can produce toxins harmful to people and animals.
“Exposure may cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips.
“If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately, also let your doctor know if you’ve had contact with dark brown/black algal mats or water in this area,” Dr Pink says.
Pets that show signs of illness after coming into contact with algal mats should be taken to a vet immediately.
People and animals should remain out of the waterways until the warnings have been lifted.
Environment Canterbury is monitoring the sites and the public will be advised of any changes in water quality.
Facts about cyanobacteria:
For further information visit
Or contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777:
For more information about Mahinga Kai:
Challenge aims to confirm Christchurch as NZ’s centre of health innovation
Ōtautahi Christchurch aims to become the home of health tech innovation in New Zealand with the HealthTech Supernode Challenge, opening Monday 29 June.
With a total prize pool across multiple categories valued at over $340,000, there are plenty of reasons to enter the HealthTech Supernode Challenge. This includes entry into a virtual pre-accelerator programme, the potential for startup investment, a Canterbury District Health Board validation contract, and an exclusive invitation to a further startup incubator programme.
Most importantly, all Challenge finalists will receive extensive profile, new networks and exposure to one of NZ’s most prolific health innovation ecosystems.
The nationwide challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, is open to anyone with a healthtech innovation or idea – from students and startups to researchers, and healthcare professionals.
The aim of the Challenge is to identify and generate commercially viable solutions that address real healthcare problems focusing on the Aged Care sector and Rural New Zealand. There is also an Open category to ensure no innovation is left uncovered.
Applications opened 29 June 2020 and will close on 16 August, with finalists announced 19 August. Anyone in New Zealand can apply. Visit healthtechchallenge.co.nz for more information.
Up to 20 finalists will embark on an intensive, six-week virtual pre-accelerator programme to support teams through a market validation process that will rigorously test their idea.
The top finalists emerging from the pre-accelerator will present to a panel of experts at a Demo Night, to be held on 22 October at Manawa, in the heart of Te Papa Hauora Christchurch Health Precinct. Judges include Microbiologist and Media Commentator, Dr. Siouxsie Wiles and Ian Town, New Zealand’s Chief Science Advisor at the Ministry of Health.
The HealthTech Supernode Challenge is delivered by the Ministry of Awesome and the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Entrepreneurship with support from ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet, and Ryman Healthcare.
Healthtech is a growth sector for Christchurch and an area of existing strength, with the city looking for opportunities to continue to attract and grow talent, business and innovation.
Joanna Norris CEO ChristchurchNZ said there is no city better placed than Christchurch to host the Challenge.
“Ōtautahi Christchurch is home to Te Papa Hauora, a world-class Health Precinct which integrates research and innovation with education and community wellbeing, pair this with the talent coming out of the tertiaries and a thriving tech ecosystem and we’ve got the perfect testbed to challenge the status quo and find new ways to address the biggest health issues facing the globe.
I have no doubt we’ll see some very competitive submissions coming through with the potential to drive the city’s economic recovery and create new high-value jobs.’’
How Via Innovations is helping keep it local and supporting a more sustainable post-COVID business environment
While people managed life under COVID Alert Levels 3 and 4, the health sector was under huge pressure and the demands being made of the health system were unprecedented.
Canterbury and West Coast DHB’s Chief Digital Officer and Executive Sponsor for Via Innovations, Stella Ward says it is during such times of extraordinary stress that people are most likely to think outside the square because ‘what we usually do’ no longer applies.
“When a health-related event as disruptive as a pandemic hits the health sector, it is a time for the creatives, for the innovators and those best able to adapt quickly. For them, a major system-shock like COVID-19 also creates new opportunities.”
“Take for example Medsalv, a business that was developed specifically to reduce waste and stretch the health dollar further. Add that Medsalv is New Zealand-based, and that it reduces reliance on now unstable overseas supply chains – and you have a winning formula for these challenging COVID-19 times.”
After proving the concept and delivering savings and reduced waste as promised, Medsalv has now secured a long-term contract with Canterbury DHB, through Via Innovations.
Via Innovations is a specialist business unit within the DHB that helps people with health innovations develop viable products or services, and provides the expertise and investment needed to commercialise them.
Via’s Innovation Director, Anya Hornsey, says that any new device or service that will be used in a hospital environment requires detailed planning and robust testing to ensure appropriate safety, quality and performance standards will be met.
“Medsalv continue to deliver on their promise of reducing both costs and waste, without compromising the high quality and safety standards required of medical devices,” says Anya.
Medsalv’s founder and CEO, Oliver Hunt, says the business initially targeted high volume, high cost, non-invasive single-use devices which can be cleaned and tested using processes comparable to or even more stringent than those used by the original manufacturer. One example is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) compression sleeves that are used in conjunction with reusable pumps to prevent DVT.
“Our focus has always been on reducing waste and the cost to the health system by getting more uses from each device – and at the end of their usable lives, ensuring they are separated into recyclable components, so much less waste eventually ends up in landfill,” Oliver says.
Savings to date are fast approaching $100,000 for Canterbury DHB, and Medsalv has more recently been working with New Zealand’s leading private hospitals, such as MercyAscot, to deliver more sustainable healthcare. As some items have been reused as many as six to eight times, the quantity of new products ordered has reduced by the same volume.
That also means tonnes of used products that would once have gone to landfill have instead been recycled – a win-win for the health system and the environment.
People are still finding some items are in short supply, or available only at a premium price, and the fact that everything is taking much longer to deliver, especially products that come from overseas. Businesses are having the same experience.
However, you can’t get more local than Medsalv – who offer the same product at a reduced cost, generate less waste, and are helping break New Zealand’s dependence on overseas medical equipment suppliers.
“Medsalv also provides jobs here in New Zealand, rather than halfway around the world – and any investment in Medsalv – like the Waste Minimisation Grant made by the Ministry for the Environment in 2019 – stays right here in New Zealand. In the current COVID-19 business climate the benefits of reusing items increase – we are ensuring our supplies of scarce or unavailable items last longer. Where items have gone up in price, the savings are even greater than before.”
Although based on a winning idea, with the drive to make it work, Medsalv credits its success to support from early backers including Canterbury DHB’s Via Innovations Unit. Via Innovations provided commercialisation expertise, alongside other supporters including the University of Canterbury, the Sustainable Initiatives Fund/Trust, Canterbury DHB, and MercyAscot hospitals.
“These organisations had the vision to support us getting our concept off the ground. I’m extremely proud that we’ve been able to deliver on our promises of reduced cost and waste, and to have created significant savings for each hospital we’re working with,” Oliver says.
To find out more visit Medsalv.com
Learn more about Canterbury DHB’s Via Innovations Unit
To read about other devices that can be re-used or recycled visit Commonly reprocessed medical devices
Page last updated: 30 July 2020
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