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

Changes to Canterbury Medical Oncology service

Friday 28 August 2020Media release3 minutes to read

THIS IS AN ARCHIVED PAGE. The advice and information contained in this page may not be current and it should only be used for historical reference purposes.

Canterbury's Medical Oncology service is currently operating at below capacity

Due to a significant amount of planned and unplanned staff leave, Canterbury DHB’s Medical Oncology service is operating below its usual capacity.

This has severely reduced the department’s ability to provide first specialist assessments and follow up appointments.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Sue Nightingale says the team is having to reprioritise and defer some appointments to ensure those with the most urgent need are seen soonest.

“We apologise in advance to those patients and their whanau for this unplanned disruption. The team are determined to minimise the delays and make the most of all the resources available,” says Dr Nightingale.

A waiting system for oncology appointments is being implemented to better maximise the department’s current capacity. This will see patients waiting longer than usual for their appointments until the department is operating at full capacity again.

Dr Nightingale says the incidence of cancer in the community is rising as society ages, and that due to improved cancer management and detection, including newly funded medications, additional treatment options, and improved quality and length of life in cancer patients, there has been an exponential rise in the department’s workload.  

“This, coupled with a significant amount of unplanned staff leave in our Medical Oncology team, has resulted in this situation.

“The DHB is doing all it can to minimise the impact for patients and keep waiting time as low as possible. Actions urgently underway to boost capacity include:

  • Changing the way we work to ensure the reduced service meets the clinical needs of patients under active care
  • Introducing clinical prioritisation to ensure those in the greatest need are seen soonest
  • Upskilling and redistributing trainees to cover expected increases in acute demand
  • Urgent development of nurse specialist services to aid management of patients in ‘active care’
  • Exploring outsourcing options
  • Recruiting locums to assist,” Dr Nightingale says.

It’s important to note that this situation has come about due to unplanned staff leave and increasing demand – and is not in any way related to the DHB’s savings plan.

“Affected patients are all receiving personal calls from the department, notifying them if their Oncology appointment has to be rescheduled. 

“Prioritisation is being given based on clinical urgency, in particular those receiving active therapy, and we continue to work with Primary Care to ensure patients receive the support and care they need,” says Dr Nightingale.

We are hopeful that the measures we are implementing will improve the Canterbury community’s access to Oncology services and help the department return to full capacity, however we know that recruiting oncology specialists can take some time, so we are planning for a range of interim measures to boost capacity over the next six months.



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Page last updated: 19 August 2021

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