New Zealand needs "structural systemic change" in mental health and addictions services and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board exemplifies this, ACT's deputy leader says in her view.
Brooke van Velden made her comments on the campaign trail in Tauranga today.
She joined leader David Seymour and others on the party list who visited businesses, malls, a public meeting, and made a stop outside Tauranga Hospital to explain ACT's policy on mental health and addictions.
Last year the Bay of Plenty Times revealed more than 70 staff members had resigned from the DHB's mental health and addictions department in four years and employees felt "undervalued, unfairly treated, bullied and harassed".
That was according to a report by an independent consultant hired to look into the embattled department, which led to a major leadership restructure.
The report was commissioned shortly after the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists wrote two letters of complaint to the DHB.
In Tauranga today, Seymour told media ACT wanted to "take mental health out of the DHB system" to avoid problems faced by the Bay of Plenty DHB organisation.
He said, in his view, the organisation ''that funds the services is also providing them - there's no accountability".
The party's policy proposed taking the current budget for mental health and addiction services out of DHB budgets and giving it to a separate commission.
This commission would distribute the money to non-government organisations providing mental health care services and patients would be able to choose the NGO providing their care, under ACT's policy.
Deputy leader Brooke van Velden said, in her opinion, the problems at Bay of Plenty's mental health and addictions department showed why "structural systemic change" and "individualised" treatment was needed in New Zealand.
In response to ACT's criticisms, Bay of Plenty DHB chief executive Pete Chandler said: "We are increasingly working across the system and with iwi to design a more appropriate future ... in line with nationally gathered feedback and proposals outlined in He Ara Oranga."
He said within the DHB "significant work has been under way over the last three years to improve team culture, staff retention, and to address workload related challenges".
The DHB has allocated $73 million to delivering mental health and addiction services for the coming year and funds hundreds of positions across NGOs and primary and secondary specialist services, for psychiatry, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, nursing, support workers and peer support workers.
ACT meets Tauranga
The candidates started their day in the Bay of Plenty visiting Katikati machinery supplier Action Equipment and later met with other business operators at Tauranga Crossing and Bayfair.
With flyers in hand, they greeted shoppers at the malls, encouraging them to have a read and asking if they had voted.
Some deflected the approaches and others were enthusiastic.
A wharf worker, Bob, who did not want his full name published, said he had watched Seymour compete on Dancing with the Stars, saying: "If a man can make a dick of himself he's a straight shooter".
"They're normal people and they make sense, they have common sense," Bob said after meeting the candidates.
Amarjit Bhamra was another who took the opportunity to meet Seymour, after seeing him in debates on television.