Co-operatives cover 'natural communities' of between 25,000 and 150,000 people.

Though an 'integral part' of their local primary care trust, each co- operative is a 'separate management entity' within it.

They manage their own staff, but employment contracts are 'normally' held by the trust.

GPs who do not join are allocated a notional budget for prescribing and their share of cash-limited general medical services.

Co-operatives may be allocated a budget for other primary and community health services.

They manage and operate their own budgets, but cash is administered by the trust, to which they are financially accountable.

Source: Designed to Care: renewing the NHS in Scotland