Hospital visiting guidelines updated 16 September 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are not acceptable.  See our COVID-19 page for general COVID-19 advice, detailed hospital visiting guidelines and COVID-19 tests.

See for info on vaccinations.

Last updated:
16 September 2022

Fewer visitor restrictions now apply

For visitors to all facilities effective from 16 September 2022

Some visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Te Tai o Poutini West Coast health facilities remain in place, but we have relaxed others.

There is still a heightened risk to vulnerable people in hospital and so people must continue to wear a mask when visiting any of our facilities and follow other advice designed to keep patients, staff and other visitors safe.

Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell. Do not visit if you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and haven’t completed your isolation period.
  • Patients in single rooms may have more than one visitor while patients in multi-bed rooms can have one visitor only per patient to ensure there is no overcrowding.
  • People can have one or two support people to accompany them to outpatients appointments.
  • Women in labour in a birthing suite, in Te Nīkau Hospital’s Maternity Ward and in Buller’s Kawatiri Maternity Unit can have the usual support people, subject to space, for the duration of their stay in our facilities.
  • Eating or drinking at the bedside is at the discretion of the Clinical Nurse Manager. Visitors must not eat or drink in multibed rooms because of the increased risk when multiple people remove their mask in the same space.
  • Hand sanitiser is available and must be used.

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.

Mask wearing

  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all sites, except in counselling, mental health and addiction services where it’s on a case-by-case agreement with patients. Masks will be provided if you don’t have one. In higher-risk environments, people, including young children, may not be able to visit if they cannot wear a mask.
  • 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.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • People are able to visit patients who have COVID-19 but they must wear an N95 mask – this will be provided if you don’t have one.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp etc where visits aren’t possible.

You must NOT visit our facilities if you

  • are COVID-19 positive
  • are unwell. Please stay home if you have a tummy bug or cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you’ve tested negative for COVID-19).

Te Whatu Ora West Coast Aged Residential Care facilities

Visitors are welcome at our Aged Care Residential facilities, subject to the space available. All visitors must wear a surgical mask.

More COVID-19 information

Cancers detected earlier thanks to free screening and easier tests

Monday 12 June 2023Health news5 minutes to read

Almost two dozen West Coasters have had cancers detected much earlier and have improved their opportunities for successful treatment, thanks to ongoing free bowel screening and easier to use home test kits.

The good news comes as the free National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) recently marked its third year of successful delivery by Te Whatu Ora on the West Coast.

Since being launched at the end of May 2021, 53% of eligible West Coasters aged 60 – 74 years old have been invited to take part in the free bowel screening programme.

“To date, thanks to the programme, 23 participants have been diagnosed with cancer at a much earlier stage than they would have been had they waited for symptoms to develop. Cancers that are diagnosed early can often be treated much more successfully including reducing the need for surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” says Te Whatu Ora West Coast’s Clinical Lead Dr Kevin Naidoo.

Dr Naidoo says that of the 8129 kits that have been sent, 4429 have been returned, with 226 of the tests returning a positive FIT (faecal immunochemical test) test result. This means that non-visible blood, that could be caused by pre-cancerous polyps or bowel cancer, has been detected in their bowel motion.

Earlier this year, the kits were also redesigned making them more user-friendly with clearer and simpler instructions for use. Kits are posted out and all eligible Coasters aged 60 to 74 years old who are enrolled with a GP should have now received an invitation to participate in the programme. Anyone who has not yet received a kit is asked to check that their GP has their correct postal address.

“We encourage everyone who receives a kit to use it, attach the unique label that identifies that the sample is yours and post it back straight away along with the consent form dated for the date you used the kit. If your kit hasn’t been returned after two weeks, you will receive a reminder phone call from the National Coordination Centre. Put simply – this little kit could save your life.”

From later in 2023, the bowel screening age for Māori and Pasifika people will also be expanded from 60 years currently, to include those aged 50 years and over.

Dr Naidoo says that the West Coast hopes to be able to extend the benefits of the programme to this new group by the end of the year.

“Our team have developed an equity plan focused on encouraging more participation by our Māori and Pasifika whānau. We are looking forward to working with our local hauora networks, Poutini Waiora, Te Ha o Kawatiri, Te Hono and Whare Manaaki to engage with our Māori and Pasifika whānau as well as with the West Coast PHO who continues to support this mahi.

“We know that completing the test, and potentially receiving a positive result, can be stressful for some, but the process of testing is very easy and has been lifesaving for several West Coasters. If you know someone who has received the kit and not yet completed it, please encourage them to follow the instructions and send it in.”

If, at any age, you have worrying signs or symptoms such as sustained, unusual bowel movements or blood in your faeces (poo), or have a family history of bowel cancer you should seek advice from your General Practice team as soon as possible. Put simply, early detection could save your life!

Similarly, should you need to contact the bowel screening programme, call 0800 924 432 or email

For more information visit –


Note to editors:

About the National Bowel Screening Programme

  • Screening can detect cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated.
  • Screening is free for those aged 60 to 74 years of age who are eligible for public healthcare.
  • The starting age for people who identify as Māori or Pasifika is planned to be lowered to 50 on the West Coast from late 2023.
  • Invitations and test kits for those eligible to participate are sent through the mail.
  • The kits are easy and simple to do at home, and samples are returned by mail for testing.
  • If any member of the public sees potential symptoms – such as a change in their normal bowel habit that continues for several weeks, or blood in a bowel motion – they should see their GP right away, not wait for their screening test.

About bowel cancer in New Zealand

  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the developed world.
  • More than 3,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year and more than 1,200 die from it annually.
  • Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in this country.
  • People who are diagnosed with bowel cancer at an early stage have a much greater chance of being successfully treated.


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Page last updated: 12 June 2023

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