The GPC had raised concerns that emerging CCGs were sidelining LMCs, with evidence of CCG board members trying to micro-manage practices irrespective of the views of local GPs.
But health secretary Andrew Lansley has now written to the GPC to confirm that LMCs will have a key role to play locally within the reformed NHS.
He said an existing legislative duty for PCTs to consult LMCs will be passed onto the NCB and CCGs.
‘As well as protecting the existing legislative framework, we would very much wish to encourage both the NHS Commissioning Board and emerging CCGs to identify ways in which they can work with LMCs for the greater good’.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the letter confirmed that LMCs will act as ‘critical friends’ of CCGs, providing advice and challenging ‘where appropriate’.
He said: ‘I think CCGs should see LMCs as a positive body within their local community and should develop a positive mutually-beneficial relationship at this earliest opportunity.
‘The letters highlights Andrew Lansley’s view that LMCs play a really important role and their involvement in the way CCGs develop is going to be crucial for their success. It is something we would want to see both CCGs and LMCs making a reality on the ground.’
GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the involvement of LMCs will ensure the views of constituent practices are taken into account during decisions made by CCG boards.
He said: ‘LMCs have a unique place in being able to bring CCGs the perspective of constituent GP. We hope CCGs will be looking to LMCs as an integral part of the process by which they will be able to engage and enable constituent GPs to deliver the local commissioning agenda.