There is still a heightened risk to vulnerable people in hospital, so we recommend all people to continue wearing a mask when visiting any of our facilities and follow other advice designed to keep patients, staff and visitors safe.  See our COVID-19 page for general COVID-19 advice, detailed hospital visiting guidelines and COVID-19 tests.

See West Coast COVID-19 vaccination clinics for info on vaccinations.

Last updated:
16 September 2022

Fewer visitor restrictions now apply

For visitors to all facilities (effective from and last updated on 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

National Bowel Screening Programme coming to the West Coast

Wednesday 26 May 2021Health news5 minutes to read


26 May 2021

For immediate release

National Bowel Screening Programme coming to the West Coast

Taking a little test could save your life!

The National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) will officially go-live in the West Coast District Health Board region this coming Monday, 31 May 2021.

Free bowel screening kits aimed at saving lives will start arriving in the mailboxes of West Coast people aged 60 to 74 from early June 2021 provided they are registered with a General Practice. We encourage everyone that fits into this age group to register with a General Practice (it’s free) and to ensure their contact details are up to date.

On the Coast, around 6,505 people will be eligible to take part during the first two years of the programme.

People receiving the kits are being asked to “take a little test that could save their life”.

West Coast DHB’s General Manager Philip Wheble says this is tremendous news especially as screening is really important because many people don’t realise that there might be a problem. For some people, taking the test and returning their test sample could quite literally be a life-saver.”

“We anticipate that investigations prompted by returned tests will enable us to treat about 10 cancers in the first year. We also expect to pick up some pre-cancerous and non-cancerous polyps and, in these instances, the participants will become part of our surveillance programme. Finding and removing them early dramatically increases people’s chance of a successful outcome,” Mr Wheble says.

Initially, the National Coordination Centre will send a letter to everyone who fits the eligibility criteria to explain the process and to invite them to participate in the programme. Test kits will gradually be sent to invitees over the following two years on or near their birthday.

The test kit itself is about the size of a large USB stick, is easy to use and accompanied by clear instructions. It is designed to pick up tiny traces of blood in your faeces (poo) and enables us to carry out further investigations to ensure we catch cancers before they become advanced and more difficult to treat.

West Coast DHB’s NBSP Clinical Lead Dr Kevin Naidoo says it’s important to be clear that screening is for people who do not have symptoms of bowel cancer. Anyone with concerning symptoms such as sustained, unusual bowel movements or blood in their faeces (poo), whatever their age, should seek advice from their General Practice team as soon as possible.

“Whānau and friends also have an important part to play – in supporting and encouraging people to participate in the programme.”

“We need people to ask their older family and friends, if they’ve received their kit and to encourage them to take a little test that could save your life and then, to return their sample straight away,” Dr Naidoo says.

“Our West Coast Health System is very focused on ensuring those who are most at risk receive the right information, so we’ll be targeting mature members of our community and in particular our priority groups who are Māori, Pacific Peoples and people living in areas of high deprivation.” 

What now?

  1. If you are 60–74 years old, look out for the kit. When you receive it, use it, attach the unique label that identifies the sample as yours and post it back straight away together with the consent form dated for the date you used the kit. Put simply – this little kit could save your life.
  2. If you’re not in the eligible age range but have whānau members and friends who are, please tell them about the National Bowel Screening Programme and encourage them to look out for their kit and to use and return it straight away – this little kit could save their life too.
  3. If, at any age, you have worrying signs or symptoms – don’t wait for a kit – make an appointment to see your GP team or health provider immediately. Acting now could save your life.



  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world and 1200 people die from this disease each year. It is the second most common cause of death from cancer.
  • The disease typically affects older people, which is why the programme is aimed at people aged 60-74. The National Bowel Screening programme is now being implemented in the majority of DHBs and should be nationwide by the end of 2021.
  • Since it began in New Zealand just over three and half years ago, the programme has screened around 340,000 people and detected more than 900 cancers, many at an early stage. The earlier bowel cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival. When bowel cancer is detected early, there is over 90 percent chance of survival.
  • You can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer by having a healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables and fibre, by exercising regularly, by not smoking and by maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Time to screen


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Page last updated: 26 May 2021

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