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

Intermittent server issue delays discharge summaries being sent to GPs

Wednesday 8 July 2015Media release4 minutes to read

An intermittent server issue has resulted in almost 6,000 discharge summaries not being sent to GPs.

Discharge summaries generated for some patients who attended a hospital in Canterbury, the West Coast and South Canterbury between 18 May and 26 June were delayed due to an intermittent fault in the servers which sends data from the hospitals to a patient's GP.

A discharge summary provides a written summary of a patient's hospital admission. This includes symptoms, treatment, medications and instructions on any follow up required. In Canterbury, most patients also receive a printed copy of this information to take home with them, and the usual process is that an electronic copy will be sent to their GP practice at the same time.

Due to an intermittent issue affecting three (out of five) of the Health Connect South servers, these summaries were not automatically sent.

The issue was discovered on Friday 26 June. Since then all of the un-sent discharge summaries have been identified, and have been sent to each GP to review.

A process to determine how this issue occurred and identify changes to systems and processes required to prevent a recurrence, is underway.

Spokesperson for Canterbury District Health Board, chief medical officer, Dr Nigel Millar, said the system failure was regrettable. “We are very sorry that this issue occurred and apologise to everyone impacted – particularly GPs, who are now receiving a large number of discharge summaries to review at once,” he said. “If any patients are adversely affected by this delay I will be in touch with them individually,” Dr Millar said.

“Electronic discharge summaries have been around for a number of years and have greatly improved the speed and legibility of information transfer between hospital clinicians and primary care. On this occasion an as-yet-unknown problem with a number of our servers has caused this regrettable delay.

“I would like to assure the public of Canterbury the West Coast and South Canterbury, that we are taking this issue very seriously and will be putting in place safe-guards to reduce the chance of anything similar happening in the future,” Dr Millar said.


Frequently asked questions:

What is a discharge summary?

A discharge summary provides a written summary of a patient's hospital admission. This includes symptoms, treatment, medications and instructions on any follow up required.

How was the problem identified?

Calls were received from a few GPs on Friday 26 June who hadn't received discharge summaries for their patients who had been discharged from hospital.

How did the problem occur for so long without someone noticing?

As the problem was intermittent and some discharge summaries were being sent as per usual, it took some time to identify that there was an issue over the six week period.

How many patients discharge summaries weren't sent?

In total, 5,927 discharge summaries weren't sent.

This total comprised:

4638 patients who attended hospitals in Canterbury;
218 patients who attended hospitals on the West Coast and
1071 patients who attended hospitals in South Canterbury

Is an electronic discharge summary the only way a GP can find out about what's been happening with their patients who have been in hospital?

No. In Canterbury most patients receive a printed copy of their discharge summary when they leave hospital. This can be taken to any subsequent GP visits. The electronic patient discharge summaries are also stored on the HealthOne patient record, however, GPs have to know to look there – and without knowledge of the server failure, GPs would not be expected to go looking for their patient's electronic discharge summary as they are usually sent to them directly.

​The process of providing patients with a printed discharge summary varies between DHBs, and their availability is also dependent on them being completed by the time a patient is ready to go home.


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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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