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 District Health Board brings home four IPANZ awards

Wednesday 22 July 2015Media release8 minutes to read

Canterbury District Health Board won four award categories at the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand (IPANZ) awards held in Wellington last night, including the prestigious Prime Minister's award.


Chief executive, David Meates, said it was an honour to receive the awards on behalf of the talented teams of people who work so hard every day for Canterbury people. “To win four out of a total of ten awards speaks volumes about the calibre of people we have working in our health system.

“I'm thrilled to see so many aspects of our work being judged as outstanding,” he said.

“The Canterbury vision is of a connected health system, delivered through cross-system alliances and partnerships, with people at the centre of everything we do. Our success together as a whole health system shows we are getting closer to that vision every day, despite the ongoing legacy of the earthquakes and the challenge of ever tighter budgets.”

“The icing on the cake was the Canterbury Clinical Network receiving the Prime Minister's award for Public Sector excellence. We had some very tough competition from Ministries and other big government organisations, and for the Canterbury Clinical Network to win this award is remarkable, and a fitting tribute to everyone involved.

Canterbury DHB won the following awards:

  • The Treasury Award for Excellence in Improving Public Value through Business Transformation – the Canterbury Clinical Network which has led the transformation of health services through their patient-centric, clinically-led alliance approach.
  • The State Services Commission and Leadership Development Centre Award for Improving Performance through Leadership Excellence – the Canterbury Health System's ‘8' programmes, Xcelr8, Collabor8 and Particip8 which develops leaders across the Canterbury Health System was a joint winner with the Department of Internal Affairs.
  • The Victoria University of Wellington School of Government Award for Excellence in Public Sector Engagement – the ‘Heading to hospital – Plan your trip!' campaign to inform Cantabrians about the closure of onsite parking at Christchurch Hospital, and the establishment of a new Park & Ride scheme.
  • The overall award open to all category winners, The Prime Minister's award for Public Sector Excellence – was won by the Canterbury Health System's Canterbury Clinical Network.
  • “Everyone working in the Canterbury Health System can feel proud of a job well done. Winning these awards provides further independent validation that we are on the right track with the transformational changes in progress.

“A whole of system approach through a more integrated way of working is certainly working for the people of Canterbury,” David Meates said.


Note: A high res photograph of the Canterbury Health System team and their awards is available on request​.

A list of recent Canterbury Health System highlights

The benefits of supporting people to stay well in the community

  • Achieved the lowest ED attendance rate in Australasia
  • 30 per cent fewer acute medical admissions than the New Zealand average
  • Reduction in the proportion of people over 65 who are attending our ED, from a high of about 27 per cent of our population over 65 attending EDs, now we are down to 22 per cent of our population over 65 attending EDs because they are getting their care without needing an emergency department attendance​
  • Our falls prevention strategies are contributing to a reduction in harm from falls in the elderly population. In the 2011-2012 year we achieved a 42% reduction in serious harm falls in our hospitals compared to the 2010-2011 year.
  • ​Since February 2012 (compared with outcomes expected based on previous trends for over 75s);
  • 1083 fewer people with falls presented to ED
  • 373 fewer than expected admissions for hip fractures
  • This has saved about 27 hospital beds each year
  • Compared with previous trends, there are 86 fewer deaths at 180 days post discharge after treatment for a fractured neck of femur (hip)
  • The reduction in hospital beds is approximately one ward reduction each year i.e. about $6.8M with a net saving over three years of $18M.
  • Supporting people in their own homes means 400 fewer people in residential aged care compared to 2006, and a 13 month decrease in the average time spent in aged residential care
  • Increased access to elective surgery by 43 per cent
  • Have not had to increase the number of beds that we need in our hospital, despite a population increase of about 70,000 in the last 6 years
  • Our acute admission rates are 30% below national rates. If we admitted at the same rate as the rest of the country there would be 127,000 more people in hospital
  • Last year alone over 30,000 people who would previously have been admitted to hospital received treatment and care in the community.
  • Despite significant increases in demand for mental health services post-quake, services, including general practice teams have stepped up and met the demand, with an increased range of community-based mental health services.

Key to improving the patient experience and reducing wastage is the provision of reliable, real time information.

  • HealthPathways: Developed in Canterbury in 2008, HealthPathways is now spreading rapidly throughout New Zealand and Australia, and is starting to be introduced further afield.
  • HealthPathways is a clinically designed tool which helps ensure timely, consistent and equitable treatment and access to health care by mapping out a pathway for a patient with a specific condition. This includes when and which diagnostic tests should be done, which medication should be prescribed – and when, and importantly, which patients should be treated in primary care and the type of patient who should be referred to secondary care.
  • HealthPathways are frequently updated, shortening the lag between new evidence emerging and putting it into practice. It is always up to date and viewed by Canterbury clinicians 1.3 million times each year​
  • HealthInfo: HealthInfo is an easy-to-use, health reference website specially created by Canterbury health professionals using local knowledge and with the needs of the local community in mind. It contains trusted and reliable information about many conditions and diseases to help people look after their own health.
  • eMeds: eMeds is short for the electronic Medicines Management Programme. eMeds is made up of various projects, all focused on improving safety for patients and staff by reducing medication errors.
  • HealthOne: Developed so authorised GPs, pharmacists, community nurses and hospital specialists can quickly access the relevant parts of their patients' health records. It's giving care professionals across settings access to a more complete picture and case history of a patient allowing better, faster decisions to be made.
  • SI PICS (South Island Patient Information Care System)
    There are currently seven different patient management systems in use in South Island DHBs. The South Island Patient Information Care System will replace and consolidate a number of those patient management system, streamlining processes such as registration when you're being admitted to hospital, referrals, waiting list booking and scheduling, reporting and business intelligence, discharge and more. It will support better patient care, improve safety and lead to more consistent care across the region.
  • Electronic Request Management System (ERMS):
    ERMS is an electronic referral tool developed in Canterbury to improve the way general practices make requests for specialist advice and referred services across both public and private sectors. It handles around 22,600 requests a month at the moment, every one of which facilitates a faster, safer patient experience.
  • Online health dashboards are making key issues more visible and able to be managed. The dashboards are also displayed in the new operations centre and are reviewed and issues addressed as part of broader hospital flow and resource management.
  • Health professionals are guiding the transformation of our health system through identifying areas where improvements can be made and leading the design of the solutions via our leadership development programmes (Xcelr8, Particip8 and Collabor8)
  • Collaboration and alliancing are the way we work, and we have implemented dozens of innovative ideas to make it better for patients.
  • The Canterbury Clinical Network is the broadest health alliance in New Zealand with nine partner organisations and whole of system engagement. Since 2009, CCN has developed new service delivery models, funding and contracting mechanisms that are based on principles of high trust, low bureaucracy, openness and transparency.

International acclaim

A report by highly-regarded British health authority, The King's Fund, about the Canterbury Health System numbers Canterbury as one of only a handful of high-performing health systems in the world.

  • “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
  • “Canterbury are making real inroads into lack of productivity in the [health] system.” Malcolm Grant, Chairperson, National Health Service.


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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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