Some allied health vacancies in rural Tasmania have been open for up to three years due to an inability to recruit the right people for the positions, a parliamentary committee has been told.
Hearings resumed for a state rural health inquiry on Friday.
Health and Community Services Union assistant secretary Lucas Digney said there used to be a regional allied health service hub run out of Launceston, but the model changed so workers were moved into regional communities instead.
"Over time, people have resigned or gone and found another job," he said.
"Those positions just cannot be filled and remain vacant.
"Some of those positions have been advertised for three years and they cannot fill them."
Mr Digney said in some cases, the inability to fill the positions was due to market pressure and not having enough people trained for the positions compared to projections a decade or so ago.
In other cases, he said it was hard to get people to stay and build a career in rural areas as contracts were short-term due to funding agreements within the allied health system.
Rural Doctors Association of Tasmania vice-president Meg McKeown said the state needed greater investment in the Tasmanian Rural Generalist Pathway to provide better health outcomes for regional Tasmanians.
As the committee had previously heard, Dr McKeown said the government needed to change several pieces of legislation to allow general practitioners, nurse practitioners and paramedics to be able to use their full skill set.
She said the income for rural general practitioners needed to improve if they were to be attracted and retained in rural communities.
"We are in a situation in that part of the state where the income is 30-per-cent lower than the rest of the state on average," Dr McKeown said.
She said her practice at Ouse, for example, had agreed to bulk-bill as many patients as possible which generally resulted in about $50 per patient.
TasCOSS chief executive Adrienne Picone said Tasmanians who lived in rural areas reported poorer health than those in more urban areas.
She said 44.4 per cent of West Coast residents in 2019 reported fair to poor health as did 38.2 per cent of residents in the Derwent Valley, 32 per cent of residents in Glamorgan-Spring Bay, and 31 per cent of residents in George Town.
On oral health, TasCOSS policy manager Charlie Burton said it was not uncommon for teenagers in rural areas to have teeth removed due to the expensive and inaccessibility to dental health care.
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