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

Celebrating the South Island’s one millionth electronic referral

Wednesday 23 March 2016Media release3 minutes to read

With a click of the mouse and an ‘accepted' message, the one millionth successful electronic request for specialist advice and assessment in the South Island was sent and received late last week. It might not seem something to get excited about at first, but it is.

That request was a vital step in getting the right care for a child perhaps, or for someone's mother or brother. And when you consider it just happened for the millionth time, then maybe you should feel more like celebrating.

This is what Canterbury District Health Board CEO David Meates had to say about reaching this significant milestone for the South Island's Electronic Request Management System (ERMS):

“More than a million everyday successes add up to one very significant one.”

“I am pleased and proud to have been part of this achievement, together with our South Island Alliance DHB partners and other key players across our health system. I would like to acknowledge Pegasus Health especially as our development partner for ERMS – they are instrumental to its ongoing success. Support from our other two Canterbury Primary Health Organisations, Rural Canterbury PHO and Christchurch PHO, has also been vital.

“In principle it was a simple idea – to create an electronic system that ensured people didn't get lost in the system. ERMS makes sure a request gets a response, helps protect patient privacy, and cuts waste out of the system by saving everyone's time.”

“ERMS was designed by clinicians, for clinicians, which is why it is so extensively used. The referral rate has climbed dramatically over the past year since it went South Island-wide.” Mr Meates says.

ERMS was launched in Canterbury back in 2009 and since then clinicians have clocked up an astonishing 741,000+ referrals in Canterbury alone, and counting.

“ERMS has been designed to support general practice to get the right care or advice for our people. A key component in its success, putting it head and shoulders above other referral models, is that requests can go to any part of the system, whether public or private, and can incorporate community as well as hospital-based services.

Christchurch GP Martin Seers thinks ERMS is a fantastic tool that improves the quality of care General Practice teams provide. Because it is fast and easy it frees up more time for patients.

“Before ERMS, I would often put referrals to one side and do them all together at the end of the day. Now they are often completed before the patient has left the practice – before I see my next patient. It further improves the quality of care by providing patients with timely access to specialist advice or treatment as needed.”

The electronic form is easily accessed through a button in a referrer's Patient Management System or on HealthPathways, and it pre-populates with key patient information such as past medical history and test results that help the specialist receiving the request to make an accurate assessment.

“ERMS has really strengthened the link between community-based care and specialist services. I've been using it for a long time now, but still appreciate every day the difference it makes to providing timely and effective care,” Dr Seers says.


Back to Health News

Page last updated: 19 December 2018

Is this page useful?