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No Inquiry Into Aged Care Needed: Ryall

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Tony Ryall
Tony Ryall

By Adam Roberts for NZPA

Wellington, Oct 19, NZPA - Health Minister Tony Ryall is confident existing audit processes for resthomes are sufficient and he is not planing on following recommendations from an opposition inquiry.

Green MP Sue Kedgley suggested a lack of financial monitoring in the sector meant the Government should ensure funding intended for the care of residents was not siphoned off to shareholders.

Mr Ryall said district health boards and the Ministry regularly audited resthomes and other care providers to ensure they were providing appropriate care as per their contracts.

Last week a report released by Labour, the Greens and Greypower criticised the sector, saying it was unregulated, short-staffed and driven more by cost-cutting and the pursuit of profit than best-care practices.

One of the report's recommendations was unannounced auditing by independent auditors.

But the New Zealand Aged Care Association said the report lacked robustness, balance or objectivity.

Ms Kedgley said last week that attempts to criticise the opposition report were aimed at drawing attention away from the issues.

In the House today, Ms Kedgley asked whether it concerned Mr Ryall that, according to the nurses organisation, many aged care providers did not pass on funding as wage increases to staff working in the sector.

Instead they used the money to fund projects such as new facilities, shareholder returns and profits, she said.

"I'm not concerned if aged residential care providers are also investing in providing more aged residential care beds, a major review released by the Government has indicated there will be a significant need for investment in the sector over the next few years if we are to keep up with our ageing population," Mr Ryall said.

He said he agreed with the Auditor-General Lyn Provost that the management of the aged care sector under the previous Labour Government was appalling.

"It's quite clear from the Aged Residential Care Review that significant investment is still required in the area and that is certainly a matter that has the Government's attention," Mr Ryall.

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