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 Supporting World Head and Neck Cancer Day

Friday 26 July 2019Media release4 minutes to read

CDHB is supporting World Head and Neck Cancer Day to highlight head and neck cancers to the general public and support health professionals to increase their knowledge of early diagnosis and the treatment available

CDHB is supporting World Head and Neck Cancer Day to highlight head and neck cancers to the general public and support health professionals to increase their knowledge of early diagnosis and the treatment available

Christchurch Hospital Cancer specialists, together with the Cancer Society Canterbury-West Coast Division, are raising awareness about early signs of head and neck cancers ahead of this year's World Head and Neck Cancer Day (tomorrow, 27 July).

The goal of World Head and Neck Cancer Day is to highlight head and neck cancers to the general public and support health professionals to increase their knowledge of early diagnosis and the treatment available.

Dr Robert Allison, Head and Neck Surgeon in Christchurch and past President of the New Zealand Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, says head and neck cancers often go undetected because many people don't recognise the early warning signs and symptoms.

“We're supporting World Head and Neck Cancer Day in the hope it helps raise awareness of the disease and the signs to look out for because treatment is more likely to be successful and less invasive if symptoms are recognised at an early stage,” Dr Allison says.

Head and neck cancer can be in the mouth, throat, neck, nose, sinuses and salivary glands with all being relatively common. Treatment is complex and can involve major surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

“In Christchurch we see between four and six new head and neck cancer patients per week (approximately 200 new patients per year) and some types are becoming more common, particularly cancer of the throat (oropharynx) and the thyroid gland.

“Throat cancer, particularly in men, is related to human papilloma virus (HPV) which can be successfully prevented with the Gardasil vaccine. This is available to all males between five and 26 years of age through their General Practice team, at no charge.

“Unfortunately many patients we treat have advanced cancer, which means treatment is more complex with a lower success rate. Even if the cancer is treated successfully, it can still have a major effect on a patient's quality of life,” Dr Allison says.

The common symptoms of head and neck cancer include a painless lump in the neck, persistent mouth ulceration, persistent hoarseness, and one-sided sore throat. Anyone with these symptoms for more than three weeks should see their GP.

Cantabrian Cosette, a throat cancer survivor, says she hopes this year’s World Head and Neck Cancer Day can help raise awareness of these types of cancers in New Zealand.

“Four years ago I was diagnosed with throat cancer. I was really scared at the time of diagnosis, with a very long journey of chemotherapy and radiation treatment ahead of me.

“Thankfully the cancer was picked up early enough that the treatment available to me was successful, and I now have a wonderful life. I count myself as extremely lucky to have had such an outcome.

“I’d encourage everyone to make themselves aware of the symptoms of these cancers and get in touch with their GP if they suspect something isn’t quite right,” says Cosette.

You can view Cosette telling her story as a throat cancer survivor here:


Additional information:

  • International Federation of Head and Neck Oncology Societies (IFHNOS) declared 27th July as World Head & Neck Cancer Day during the 5th World Congress in New York on 27th July 2014.
  • (IFHNOS) is a global organisation established through cooperation of national and regional societies and organisations in the specialty of head and neck surgery and oncology with membership from national and regional multidisciplinary organisations, representing 50 countries. The purpose of this organisation is to provide a common platform for specialists in the field of head and neck cancer to interact in professional matters of mutual interest. To know more about IFHNOS visit
  • Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) affects over 500,000 people globally each year and is the leading cause of mortality and disability in many parts of the world. It mainly affects people in the productive age-group, yet most of this mortality and morbidity is preventable.
  • New Zealand is a member of IFHNOS via the New Zealand Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.
  • The Cancer Society Cancer Information Helpline is available on Tel: 0800 226 237. People can also email a Cancer Information nurse via the Cancer Society website at


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Page last updated: 7 August 2020

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