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

New Chief Medical Officer announced

Wednesday 1 June 2016Media release3 minutes to read

Dr Sue Nightingale is well known to many in the Canterbury Health System and it's her established credentials and networks, which have led her to the role of Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

Dr Nightingale will step into the CMO role for the Canterbury District Health Board starting September 19, 2016.

“It was departing CMO Dr Nigel Millar who really planted the seed suggesting I should go for this role. It didn't take me long to think ‘well yes, I can do this',” Dr Nightingale says.

“I have established connections across the Canterbury and National health systems. I am excited about taking on a new set of challenges.

‘I work from a strong clinical governance framework which includes promoting clinical leadership, best clinical practice and ensuring the patient voice is heard.'

A committed clinician and talented leader, Dr Nightingale has worked for the Canterbury DHB and its predecessor organisations since 1988 in a variety of clinical and leadership roles. She is currently Chief of Psychiatry and Director of Area Mental Health Services, positions she has held since 2010.

During her time as Chief of Psychiatry, Dr Nightingale has displayed deep appreciation of clinical governance and leadership, and a real passion for ensuring patients' experience of healthcare is the best it can be. Her philosophy is simply “patients really do come first”.

Dr Nightingale places huge value on the importance of involving and engaging families and also encouraging clinicians to work from the view of putting themselves in the patient's shoes.

She also believes clinicians need to maintain care and respect for each other at all times and for any bad behaviour to always be addressed immediately.

“Otherwise if you don't, you are saying you're accepting that behaviour.”

Dr Nightingale also holds high the importance of having a work-life balance.

“We all need a work-life balance. I've always said that what's most important to me is family and everything else comes after that.”

Alongside putting family first is taking charge of your own physical and mental wellbeing.

Making time to stay active and healthy is essential, Dr Nightingale says.

“I enjoy getting out on my road bike when I can and swimming. I've taken part in the swimming leg of a couple triathlons as part of a team. I really enjoy it and I think it's important to have outside interests in your life. You're not effective otherwise.”

Dr Nightingale received her medical training at the University of Otago. She went on to obtain a Diploma in Obstetrics and, more recently, a Masters in Bioethics and Health Law. She initially trained in general practice, but moved on to psychiatry and obtained her Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP). In 2015, Dr Nightingale was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA).

She has held a variety of clinical and leadership positions within mental health services in Canterbury and is also a government appointee to the Mental Health Review Tribunal on which she has served since 2009. Dr Nightingale is currently National Chair of the Directors of Area Mental Health Services.

In partnership with clinical directors and operational leaders across mental health services, Dr Nightingale has led wide-ranging service improvements to Canterbury's mental health services that are delivering stunning results despite the significant pressures that these services have been under over the post-earthquake period.


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Page last updated: 19 December 2018

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