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

Blessing of new Acute Admitting Unit at Ashburton Hospital

Tuesday 15 November 2016Media release3 minutes to read

Earlier this morning a blessing service was held for the new Acute Admitting Unit at Ashburton Hospital, part of an $8.7 million upgrade and refurbishment of facilities. ​

An impressive $1.5 million of that total was raised by local community funders, Advance Ashburton Community Foundation in conjunction with the Mackenzie Charitable Trust, the Lion Foundation, the Ashburton Licensing Trust and the Trevor Wilson Charitable Trust.

With a maximum capacity of 74 beds*, Ashburton's existing hospital is Canterbury's largest rural health facility and one of only four Level 3 rural hospitals in the South Island. A Level 3 hospital provides onsite 24-hour medical cover, 24-hour access to radiology and laboratory services.

The new Acute Admitting Unit and Day Procedure Theatre is expected to open its doors to the first patients in early December 2016. Before then, a public open day is planned for Sunday November 27th to give Ashburton people a chance to walk through their new facility.

The Acute Admitting Unit replaces an older, smaller unit and is purpose-built to ensure efficient assessment, stabilisation and short-term care of acute cases.

Murray Cleverley, Chair of the Canterbury District Health Board, attended the blessing service and is pleased that the new unit will soon be commissioned.

“This facility is an important addition to Ashburton's health service capabilities, helping Canterbury DHB better align the way it provides care with rural community needs,” he says.

Greg Robertson, Canterbury DHB Chief of Surgery, says the new Acute Admitting Unit will use innovative approaches to rural health service provision.

“The unit will rely upon a new type of doctor known as a ‘rural hospital specialist'. This position is a consultant-grade multi-speciality doctor able to manage patients with a wide range of conditions and treatment needs.

“The state-of-the-art unit also allows for medical education, training and research opportunities, helping to attract and retain high-quality staff and visiting specialists.”

Two research positions associated with the unit have already been established through community funding from Advance Ashburton for the next three years.

“Together, these innovations allow Ashburton Hospital to build its status as a centre of medical excellence, to offer a wider range of procedures than at present, and to enable efficient transfer of patients to and from Christchurch Hospital.”

Alongside the Acute Assessment unit, a new theatre has been built. The day procedures that will be provided in this unit will be those that can be provided safely in a rural hospital setting.

Mr Robertson says the new unit will be highly complementary to existing DHB theatre capability.

“Ashburton Hospital will work closely with the wider Canterbury DHB theatre planning team to explore many new options for service delivery that can be provided within this state-of-the-art facility.

“The model of bringing together both services (acute care and planned procedures) into one facility enables Ashburton Hospital to use its workforce and resources in a very flexible way.”

David Meates, Canterbury DHB's CEO agrees.

“Our new facilities at Ashburton are all part of the DHB's ‘long life, loose fit' approach to healthcare service provision in Canterbury, creating flexible spaces that will keep pace with healthcare innovations, and within which our staff can provide the right care to the right person at the right time, both now and well into the future.”

* The total of 74 beds includes an off-site aged residential care unit.



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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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