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 guidelinesCOVID-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:
9th April 2022

  • For visitors to all facilities effective from Wednesday 20 July 2022With 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. This is another measure to minimise the risk to vulnerable patients.

    Patients and visitors should also read the additional more detailed visiting guidelines for each specific hospital.

    More COVID-19 information

For Health Professionals

Support for Signing Death Certificates in Natural Deaths

If a patient has relevant medical history (including chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, or COPD) and the death is clearly natural, it does not require referral to the coroner, even if you are unsure of the exact terminal event. An educated guess based on the circumstances of the death and the person’s medical history is sufficient for determining the cause of death and completing the death certificate.

If you are unsure of what to put as the cause of death for a clearly natural death, the on-call forensic pathologist can discuss the case with you and recommend appropriate wording. The forensic pathologist can be reached through the Christchurch Hospital switchboard.

Coroner Referrals

All non-natural deaths, and those that may be from non-natural causes, require referral to the coroner. Examples include:

  • Deaths due to injury or where an injury may have contributed to death, except in people over age 70 who die from complications resulting from a simple fall
  • Deaths occurring as the result of a harsh environment such as drowning or cold exposure
  • Cases raising concern for abuse or neglect
  • Drug overdoses/toxicity

Deaths occurring during or shortly after surgery or anaesthesia only require coroner referral if the death was unexpected. In most cases, if the surgery was high-risk (e.g. cardiovascular surgery) or the person had known comorbidities (e.g. ischemic heart disease), and no concerns have been raised regarding the standard of care, then the death is not considered unexpected and a death certificate can be issued by the treating physician.

If you have questions about an apparently natural death, speak with the on-call forensic pathologist before referring the case to the coroner. The coroners in New Zealand are lawyers and will not be able to discuss the medical aspects of the case, whereas forensic pathologists are medical doctors with subspecialisation in autopsy and death investigation and can assist with deciding whether a referral to the coroner is needed or if a death certificate can be completed by the treating clinician.

Autopsies for Non-Coronial Deaths (Hospital-based Autopsies)

If a death occurs in hospital and does not qualify as a coroner case but you or the family have questions around how the death occurred, a hospital-based autopsy may be appropriate. The on-call forensic pathologist can discuss with you whether an autopsy would be beneficial. Please contact the Christchurch Hospital mortuary with any questions about requesting a hospital-based autopsy.