People with intellectual disabilities were inappropriately accommodated in mental health units, and other high needs people were placed in facilities outside their regions, a new report has found.
The Ombudsman says the Ministry of Health is failing services for people with intellectual disability in supervised care.
Findings from an investigation have been released today detailing oversights by the ministry within its High and Complex Framework.
The framework is a network of community services for those in care and is predominantly used for those in the criminal justice system.
Ministry of Health is responsible for the planning and funding of these services.
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said some people were spending longer in prison while waiting for a hospital placement, and some experiences were traumatising for those in care.
"These particular people have been placed so far under the radar that they've been barely noticed by the Ministry of Health as being important - that's not acceptable."
Boshier launched the investigation in 2019 after becoming increasingly concerned about a continuing shortage of specialised accommodation for people with intellectual disabilities.
There are up to 250 people at any given time in need of specialised care services, but the ministry provides only 66 beds each year.
Boshier said the system's failings could have been avoided but instead the ministry let them build up over the years.
The ministry said it was working closely with providers to find solutions. It accepted the report's findings and welcomed the recommendations.