As the state struggles to recruit and retain primary healthcare workers in the North, questions are being raised about the efficacy of workforce modelling for rural and regional GPs.
With GPs a primary health service, support for providers is managed at the federal level, with incentives and support for GPs based on proximity to major cities.
According to the Australian Department of Health, the model was developed to better target health workforce programs and attract health professionals to more remote and smaller communities.
The model uses incentives, grants and support to drive GPs into locations ranked higher in the MMM that traditionally struggle to recruit GPs, including higher bulk-billing incentives and salary support for doctors while training.
Concerns raised by GPs in the North of the state focus on the variance in population density between remote Northern GPs, as opposed to GPs in the North-West and on the mainland.
Summerdale Medical Practice partner Dr Don Rose said when the federal government introduced the model, a lot of rural and regional areas were impacted.
"When they introduced the MMM Tasmania did really badly and a lot of outer regional areas were classified as regional," he said. "Towns like Lilydale were classified the same as Ballarat.
"A lot of towns in Tasmania lost badly because it stems across lots of programs and most new programs are adopting the MMM."
Dr Rose said the issues felt by GPs in the North were well known.
"The federal government's been told multiple times that Tasmania was misclassified and they chose not to fix it, so we do badly out of all these requests and these schemes."
Earlier this month, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government had made changes to the model that would make it easier for GPs in remote areas to recruit and retain staff.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Tasmania chairman Dr Tim Jackson said on the whole, the model worked, despite the geographical nuances.
There's always going to be winners and losers when you draw lines on a map and that's unfortunate," he said.
"Generally speaking, there's more funding for rural and remote areas to address the work shortages and there's more funding for those remote places GPs are working in, so we broadly support that."
Your Health Connect network and group general manager Roman Kiselev said he had struggled to recruit GPs for clinics in the North under the model.
"We used to have a Lilydale clinic where it was classified MMM-two and they changed it overnight from a rural clinic to an urban clinic basically overnight," he said.
"A GP in Devonport would be better off than somebody that's working in Lilydale, so those changes for some areas aren't very fair."
He said Northern rural clinics faced a different geographical issues compared to mainland regional clinics that benefited from the model.
"If you say to someone, come and work in Evandale it's 15 or 20 minutes outside of Launceston, a fellow GP will say to me, 'why should I if I can be working in Launceston?'."
Andrew Chounding is The Examiners Health Reporter, if you have a health-related story please email Andrew.email@example.com
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