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

Innovation Partnership places spotlight on how smart data puts patients first in Canterbury

Monday 11 May 2015Media release3 minutes to read

The Canterbury Health System has had the spotlight cast on it once again, this time in a report the Innovation Partnership commissioned on Data Driven Innovation in New Zealand.

The report explores how data driven innovation represents a multi-billion dollar opportunity for New Zealand.

Canterbury features as one of the report's case studies, entitled ‘Unlocking Health: how smart data is putting patients first in Canterbury'.

David Meates, Canterbury DHB chief executive says the Canterbury Health System is most interested in using data to improve the quality and safety of care and importantly, to save patients' time.

Canterbury's case study provides two examples of how data are improving patient care.

The COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) project has resulted in more people with this chronic disease receiving the right care in their own homes.

“The use of data raised awareness of the fact that in winter patients with COPD were occupying up to 60 hospital beds. There's been a massive reduction in COPD admissions – and happier patients receiving care at home,” Mr Meates says.

The Canterbury Health System's electronic patient information system known as HealthOne provides up to date data from across the system to the point of care (whether it's in hospital or primary care).

“For the patient this means faster, more appropriate care and HealthOne has helped Canterbury achieve one of the lowest rates of acute admissions anywhere in New Zealand. Our rate of acute admissions to hospital is 30 percent less than the national average.

“The value of quality data means we can deliver better services that represent value for money by targeting resources to where they're needed most.”

Carolyn Gullery, Canterbury DHB's general manager of planning, funding and decision support, and Mr Meates attended the launch of the report in Wellington recently, with Minister of Finance, Bill English and key New Zealand innovation businesses and government organisations, including Fonterra, Google New Zealand, and ACC.

Carolyn says it is really exciting to have the Canterbury Health System's use of data recognised.

“We are using data to pick up on trends, monitor the impact of changes to processes, guide decision making and monitor trends over time. We've also made data visible to all staff on the intranet, so they can see what's happening in real time. It's helping to improve the flow of people through our system,” she says.

“This is a far cry from what things were like seven years ago when it wasn't uncommon for hospital to be in gridlock a couple of times a week in winter – causing havoc, with surgery having to be cancelled and patients effectively being stuck and not flowing through our hospital.”

Carolyn says using data to identify and predict trends and plan has been fundamental to changing Canterbury's health system.

“It helps us to see what's happening. This has required us to introduce new IT systems so we're getting the right information to deliver the care that's needed for our population,” she says.

“In the past year the Canterbury Health System has kept almost 30,000 people out of hospital through initiatives such as the Community Rehabilitation Enablement Support Team and Acute Demand Management Service. Good data, much of it in real time, has played a huge role in this achievement.”


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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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