Serious failures in rest-home care have not been picked up because of poor Ministry of Health monitoring, the Auditor-General says.
"Older people who live in rest homes are some of the most vulnerable in our society, so it is important to have effective arrangements for checking the quality and safety of rest-home services," she said.
incompetent auditors, conflicts of interest where some auditors also acted as rest-home consultants, a failure to detect major problems, inadequate follow-up and inconsistencies between reports.
The Ministry uses eight designated agencies, and had known since 2004 that the agencies' auditing was "inconsistent and, in some cases, of a poor quality", but had not responded quickly enough.
DHBs felt they could not rely on agencies' audit results and many did their own audits.
There were also cases where agencies offered consultancy services to the rest homes they were auditing.
Most district health boards (DHBs) did not feel they could rely on agencies' audit findings, and many did their own audits.