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

Cutting-edge breast cancer research among national grants awarded to Canterbury and West Coast DHBs

Monday 7 December 2020Media release4 minutes to read

Health News

Canterbury and West Coast DHBs have received research funding to benefit local and New Zealand health care

Canterbury and West Coast DHBs have attracted a broad array of research funding to benefit local and New Zealand health care in new research funding from the Health Research Council.

Five different grants received approval ranging from developing tools for better predicting Emergency Department bed need through to “What growing up well looks like for Coast kids”. Two more grants are under negotiation.

The largest grant for the DHBs went to Canterbury Health Laboratories Anatomical Pathologist Dr Gavin Harris for his work on developing computational pathology capability and expertise for breast cancer.

Gavin explains that his day job in anatomical pathology involves looking at cancerous tissue under microscopes and predicting how someone’s cancer is likely to behave or respond to different therapies. His specialty is breast cancer. Increasingly in pathology, glass slides are now being digitised so they can be viewed on a high definition monitor rather than using a microscope.

Gavin’s research is focused on developing the cutting-edge practice of computational pathology. This involves generating computer algorithms that can be used to analyse digitised glass slides for much quicker, accurate, objective analysis.

“At the moment it takes one to two hours to manually review a single breast tissue sample and produce a report for clinicians to view.

“With computational pathology we would expect that that would reduce the time significantly. This would have big implications for how we meet increasing cancer rates with scarce specialist resources,” says Gavin.

This latest grant is the third Gavin has received for this work since 2019 and will provide the funding to partly step back from his day job and devote more time to his research.

While the field is attracting big interest and funding overseas, it’s in its early stages in New Zealand. Gavin believes our local capability, including the Canterbury Health Laboratories, Te Papa Hauora/Health Precinct partners and Cancer Society Tissue Bank, puts us in a unique position to lead developing computational pathology technology in New Zealand.

“My goal is to attract funding to develop computational pathology expertise locally, which has maximum benefit for New Zealand cancer patients. The aim would be to use New Zealand data and expert analysis, so ultimately New Zealand cancer patients and their clinicians would have more information about their cancers and how they might respond to various treatments. This would support a more personalised approach to cancer management.”

Canterbury DHB Chief Medical Officer Sue Nightingale says, “We’re delighted to have attracted such a broad range of grants from across different specialties and determined to keep growing our research activities here to help improve the health and wellbeing of our communities.”

The full list of Health Research Council Health Sector Research Collaboration Grants for Canterbury and West Coast DHBs are: a Research Activation Grant for Dr Cameron Lacey, Canterbury DHB Clinical Director Research, for a “Review of Māori consultation processes for research” with a second research activation grant in negotiation. There are four Research Career Development Awards granted to: Jane George, West Coast DHB Director of Allied Health, Scientific and Technical, for “Rural early years ‘What growing up well looks like for Coast kids’”; Dr Laura Hamill, Canterbury DHB Emergency Department Fellow, for “Improving Care and Equity in acute medical decision making”; Dr Gavin Harris, Canterbury Health Laboratories Anatomical Pathologist, for “Developing computational pathology capability and expertise for breast cancer”; and Emily Timothy, Canterbury DHB Community Stroke Rehabilitation Service Physiotherapist, for “Conceptualising inpatient rehabilitation early intervention vocational services”. A further research career development award is in negotiation



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Page last updated: 8 December 2020

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