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

Lives being saved by bowel screening

Tuesday 13 April 2021Media release4 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.

Equity Advisory Group members Wendy Dallas-Katoa and Malu Tulia at the launch event

Twenty people have had cancers confirmed and many others have had pre-cancerous lesions removed since the National Bowel Screening Programme started in Canterbury. 

Kits started being delivered in volume in December last year, and by the end of March 16,705 kits had been sent to people aged 60 – 74 who had recent birthdays. The programme had its official launch this morning in the foyer of the new Waipapa building.

The faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is easy and simple to do in the privacy of your own home. It can detect tiny traces of blood present in a small sample of faeces (your bowel motion, or poo), which may be an early warning sign that something is wrong with your bowel. Only a tiny amount is needed, about the size of a pinhead.

Lead clinician for the programme, Consultant Gastroenterologist Dr Teresa Chalmers-Watson says people who have blood in their poo sample (a positive test) are contacted to have a colonoscopy.

“Through screening, we’re detecting people who had no symptoms. So the programme is already saving lives,” Dr Chalmers-Watson says.

Bowel screening can find bowel cancer and also detect polyps (growths). These are not cancer, but they may develop into a cancer over a number of years. Most polyps can be easily removed, reducing the risk that bowel cancer will develop.

Programme Champion and the face of the campaign Dame Aroha Reriti-Crofts says Māori have high incidences of bowel cancer and it’s hugely important they use the test kit.

“Awareness of bowel cancer, that has to be an urgent message for our people. You get a kit in the mail. Follow the instructions, swipe your tūtae with the test stick and seal it up, click it shut, in the pack, in the mail, in the post box on the day you do your test. 

“Tāne mā, wāhine mā, pōua mā, tāua mā:  Haere koutou ki te tākuta, ki te bowel screening rā nei!”

Canterbury DHB’s Programme Manager Rachael Haldane says at this early stage about 58% of all test kits are being used and sent back.

“Although we are happy with the return rate – we’re looking at what we can do to continually improve that.  It would be very helpful if their family members encouraged their 60 – 74 year olds to do the test, fill in the forms, and send them back as fast as possible,” Rachael says.

People aged 60-74 who are eligible for free public healthcare in NZ are being invited to take the test on or near their birthdate:

  • People who have an even number birthdate (the day of the month i.e. 2, 4 , 16,26) will receive an invitation in year 1 (between November 2020 and November 2021)
  • People who have an odd number birthdate (the day of the month i.e. 3, 7, 17, 29) will receive an invitation in year 2 (between November 2021 and November 2022) and this pattern will continue.

Two weeks later a test kit will arrive in the mail, including a consent form and label with unique details. This label needs to be fixed to the test, along with the date the test was carried out, before it is posted back (FREEPOST).

Because there is a danger tests will be spoiled if they don’t arrive back promptly, people are being urged to do the test at the beginning of the week and return it immediately via post (from Monday to Wednesday is best). 

People with a positive result will usually be contacted by their GP or the hospital. They will then be invited to the hospital for a colonoscopy.

Those participants with a negative FIT result will be notified by letter and recalled for repeat screening every two years.

Everyone eligible for free public healthcare in New Zealand aged 60 – 74 is encouraged to ensure their details are up to date with their GP.



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Page last updated: 19 August 2021

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