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

Falls prevention efforts reducing harm in our health system

Thursday 10 November 2016Media release3 minutes to read

Falls prevention efforts are being praised for a 25 percent reduction in the number of Serious and Adverse Events (SAEs) reported in Canterbury this last financial year.

The Serious Adverse Events, a Health Quality and Safety Commission report, released today shows Canterbury DHB reported 43 SAEs between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016 – this is down from 58 SAEs reported the previous year.

The biggest improvement has been in the number of falls occurring in Canterbury hospitals. Twenty nine patients had a fall, resulting in serious harm, while an inpatient during the 2015-2016 year – compared to 40 the previous year.

David Meates, Canterbury DHB Chief Executive, says while the only acceptable number of falls in hospital is zero, it is good to see improvement in this area.

“It's fantastic to see the Canterbury's ‘Whole of System approach to falls prevention' making gains.”

Mr Meates says the DHB has been committed to achieving zero harm from falls since 2011, focusing on the three key areas – falls prevention in the wider community, falls prevention in rest homes and falls prevention for older people receiving care in our hospitals.

“The latest SAE report demonstrates that our efforts are making a difference,” Mr Meates says.

“There continues to be a focus on identifying risk factors and tailoring falls prevention strategies to meet the needs of individual patients while they are in hospital and for when they return home.”

He says the implementation of the electronic incident management system has also provided access to data used to identify trends and focus future improvement work.

While falls accounted for the majority of SAEs reported in Canterbury, Mr Meates says its vital all incidents continue to be reported and that staff feel safe doing so.

“Preventing adverse events relies on our continued efforts to review and learn from mistakes when they happen.

“It's important for staff to feel supported to speak up to improve what we're doing and learn from what went wrong

“Ensuring we remain transparent and have an open reporting culture is key to us being able to make the necessary changes to ensure the same thing doesn't happen again.”

Mr Meates says when harm does occur, it's never easy for those involved.

“Our staff come to work every day with the aim of improving people's health. If a patient's condition deteriorates unexpectedly and suddenly, it can have a devastating effect,” he says.

“We have an obligation to our patients, their family and whanau to be open and transparent and be honest about the care we've provided – even if it hasn't gone to plan.”

More info on falls prevention efforts:
In the community and rest homes:

Over the past year, the Canterbury Community Falls Prevention Programme provided care to over 1900 older people. Following an initial home visit from a physiotherapist or registered nurse, a home falls assessment and hazard check is completed, and a personal falls prevention programme is tailored to improve strength and balance and reduce the risk of falls.

A recent evaluation found that from February 2012 to February 2016 there have been 1,533 fewer people over 75 years presenting to the Christchurch Hospital Emergency Department due to a fall, compared with expected volumes based on pre intervention trends. The evaluation also found that there has been 455 fewer than expected admissions for hip fractures, 191 fewer deaths post hip fracture than predicted and 800 fewer bed days occupied in hospital per year due to a fall in the community.

The SAE reports can be accessed via the Health Quality and Safety Commission website: Canterbury's can be viewed via the Canterbury DHB website:



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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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