IMAGINE a GP practice which integrates social work, physiotherapy, welfare advice, pharmacy, mental health support, and district nursing.

Doctors have more time to spend with complex patients, pro-actively make house calls to housebound patients, and the practice has no GP vacancies - bucking a national trend.

This was the Govan SHIP project (Social and Health Integration Project) which an evaluation this week found had "succeeded in reducing overall demand" by focusing on keeping patients well, as opposed to reacting when they were crisis.

READ MORE: Anger as Government scraps April 2021 GP contract deadline

In one case, a patient with a personality disorder and anxiety who had visited A&E 178 times in the two years before SHIP, went just 56 times in the two years after it.

"It was a Deep End project but we envisioned all along that it would be for all of Scotland’s practices," said Dr Anne Mullin, one of the GPs who co-led it from 2015 to 2018.

"There are deprived patients everywhere - it’s just that you would need a different proportion of physio or a social workers time in Bearsden as you would in Govan.”

READ MORE: Highland GPs 'completely betrayed' by new practice funding model

Instead the Scottish Government is funding HSCPs, not practices, to create these multi-disciplinary teams.

One reason is that Phase 2 of the GP contract - due to be voted on next year - aims to reduce the variation in GP earnings and practice expenses.

This means bringing GP incomes into line with hospital consultant salaries (£85-113,000) while curbing the profiteering which can see a minority of GPs restrict spending (for example on extra staff that might benefit patients) in order to inflate their own pay to £150,000 or more.

READ MORE: GP leader says new pay model must bring general practice into line with hospital consultants' pay

Some GPs fear this represents a "move to salaried service by stealth", however, and intend to vote against Phase 2 to safeguard the independent contractor model.

Ironically for taxpayers, that could allow certain urban practices who enjoyed a substantial uplift in income under 2018's controversial new funding formula to bank substantial extra resources - while HSCPs pay for their support staff.