Synthetic drug dealers intimidating patients and staff around a health centre in Napier is now so common, a working party has been set up to deal with it.
A rise in threatening and unpredictable behaviour around the Napier Health Centre in Wellesley Rd sparked a special meeting yesterday on how the problem was being addressed.
"We have been concerned about these people fronting up here under the influence of synthetic drugs," Ken Gilligan of City Medical said.
"It has been worrying both staff and patients because they scare people the way they behave."
One police officer spoken to simply said "it has got a lot worse out there".
Chaired by Gilligan, who called the meeting, it drew representatives from several organisations including police, the Napier City Council, Napier pharmacy interests as well as City Medical directors, management and staff.
Gilligan said the meeting had been called "to understand what initiatives are under action in the wider community services".
He said staff were able to consider progress on minimising what he called undesirable behaviour which had been considered threatening for people at the centre.
"We are greatly encouraged to learn about positive actions to lessen the use and effects of synthetic drugs in areas close by the Napier Health Centre."
Gilligan said they were heartened by updates revolving around increased security, policing, community patrols and care for addicts.
"They are all being actively progressed with positive results," he said.
"We agreed a working group concept is best suited to maintain a watch over what is happening around us, ongoing progress, new initiatives and regular dialogue between us all.
"In this way we will achieve practical and appropriate solutions for the benefit of the wiser community."
The nearby suburb of Maraenui has been reported to be a hotbed of synthetic drug use, and a man died after ingesting synthetic drugs in the area last month.
In a statement last month Napier MP Stuart Nash said it was a problem that affected all communities and there was no singular approach.
He said it required a "multi-agency" approach.
In July the health and justice ministries, police and Customs set up a working group to find possible solutions to deal with the growing synthetic cannabis issue.
Nash said one avenue toward finding a solution was to move it from the Psychoactive Substances Act to the Misuse of Drugs Act.
He said police had been unable to go after the producers and sellers of the substances in the way they could under the Misuse of Drugs Act.