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

Canterbury DHB to manage all food services from 1 July 2017

Monday 6 March 2017Media release6 minutes to read

Canterbury DHB has announced that it will take over management of all food services from 1 July 2017, after the current Compass Group contract expires on 30 June.

Chief executive David Meates said in September last year Canterbury DHB advised Health Partnerships Limited (NZHPL) that it would not be signing up to the national food service contract.

“Our intention is that all current food services staff are retained by Canterbury DHB and we don't expect the public to notice any difference in the food services provided in our hospitals,” Mr Meates says.

“Canterbury DHB is in a unique position among DHBs in having a well-established, proven and fully-owned, Cook-Chill production unit capable of providing bulk menu items to all Canterbury DHB hospitals; this is the only one of its kind in NZ and has been in use constantly since 2007.” 

After February 22, 2011 this system enabled the Canterbury DHB to continuously offer nutrititious menu choices to all patients whilst food supplies and deliveries into the city were compromised by the earthquakes.

“We will maintain our current high quality and high standards of food production and service across all our hospitals”.

All current services – cafes for the staff and public, meal provision across our hospitals and meals on wheels will be maintained, he says.

“Our food service enjoys high levels of customer satisfaction and we won't be doing anything to jeopardise the quality of food or service. We will be using the same food production methods as we currently do for patient meals, meals on wheels and staff meals.  Over time we plan to enhance the range of healthy choices available.

“We have indicated to Compass that it's our intention to offer employment to all 300 workers and their managers currently employed by Compass Group. It's our intention that they will be employed by Canterbury DHB from 1 July on the same terms and conditions as their current contracts, and they will enjoy additional benefits as Canterbury DHB employees.

“I would like to acknowledge the 13 years' service and valued relationship we've had with Compass who took over the contract back in 2004. Up until that point the services had been provided by a mix of in house, outsourced and joint management contracts; prior to which all food services were in-house.”

Mr Meates says that between now and 1 July there's a lot of behind the scenes details to work through and the Canterbury DHB will continue to work cooperatively with Compass/Medirest, their staff, and union to ensure a smooth transition for all.

Canterbury DHB continues to support the New Zealand Health Partnerships programme to develop national nutritional guidelines for all hospitals and we continue to support the application of Key Performance Indicators/benchmarks to all DHB food service operations nationally.


Frequently Asked Questions

Which sites are affected?

All sites which currently have Compass Group staff working in food services. We also have some Compass Group staff carrying out cleaning and orderly services in Ashburton – they too will be offered employment with Canterbury DHB from 1 July this year.

This includes:

  • Christchurch Hospital – approximately 150 staff
  • Burwood Hospital – approximately 60 staff
  • Hillmorton Hospital site – approximately 40 staff
  • Ashburton Hospital site – approximately 40 staff (includes orderlies and cleaners) + also provides services for Tuarangi Home
  • The Princess Margaret Hospital Site – approximately 10 staff

Who provides the meal service at the other Canterbury DHB sites?

The services at Kaikoura Health Te Hā o Te Ora, Rangiora Health Hub, Oxford and Waikari Hospitals, Darfield, Ellesmere, Leeston, Lincoln Maternity and the Chatham Islands Hospital are either provided in-house or by a local provider – these services will be unaffected.

What does ‘meal service' include?

It includes all the meals and beverages for patients, including those with a wide range of dietary requirements, Meals on Wheels, and the provision of food in cafes which are open to staff and the public at Christchurch Women's Hospital, Christchurch Hospital, Burwood Hospital, Ashburton Hospital, Hillmorton Hospital, and The Princess Margaret Hospital. The service aspect includes taking patient's orders from the menu, collating and processing the orders, and delivery and serving meals to inpatients, and clearing away meal trays after each meal. It also includes ensuring patients have fresh jugs of iced water available and serving hot drinks and snacks to patients on wards where appropriate throughout the day.

Canterbury DHB prepares and serves more than one million patient meals each year.

More than 120,000 meals on wheels are delivered by volunteers to Canterbury people each year.

Will the DHB be changing the menus, buying in more pre-prepared food in bulk?

We will be using the same production methods and hope to be using the same suppliers after 1 July. Over time we will be looking to enhance the range of quality healthy food options available to patients, staff and the public. Where possible and economic to do so, we would also like to source more local providers of ingredients and fresh produce.​

How much will the DHB save by providing food services in-house, compared to going with the national contract?

For commercially-sensitive reasons, we cannot discuss the actual amount, however savings are in the order of millions of over the next 14 years.

What sort of roles will this change cover?

It will cover a range of staff from site managers, located at the various sites, to catering associates, kitchen assistants, cooks, food supervisors, retail staff and administration staff.

Is Canterbury the only DHB providing its food service in-house?

No. A number of DHBs already provide in-house food services, however, Canterbury is the only DHB to have an in-house cook-chill production unit, which means fresh food can be prepared to enable quality meals with an extended shelf life.

How does the current food rate, in terms of customer satisfaction?

Patients are currently surveyed every six months, and Canterbury DHB patients consistently rate the hospital meals highly, with 80-90% of respondents saying the meal service was satisfactory or better.

Does the DHB have any plans to cut the number of food services staff?

Absolutely not – this is a vitally important service, and we will need all the current staff to continue to provide the current high standard of food and services.


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Page last updated: 3 October 2018

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