Commissioning Support for London was established last week as part of region-wide efforts to improve commissioning.

But there are concerns that the work of the London Health Observatory, which is being made part of the new organisation, will be compromised.

Also known during its development as the London Clinical and Business Support Agency and “the hub”, Commissioning Support for London was formally established at the beginning of the month under chief executive Rhona McLeod, formerly director of programmes and development at Bupa Commissioning.

It will carry out work for all of the capital’s 31 primary care trusts and Ms McLeod will report to a board of PCT directors. The body’s functions will include redesigning services, advising on quality metrics, managing claims and reviewing coding.

London Health Observatory, and Healthcare for London, which is charged with supporting implementation of the London reform strategy, are two of several existing bodies becoming part of the new organisation. It is unclear how far the organisations will remain separate and independent under the changes.

PCT support

HSJ has been told of concerns in London and nationally that the part of the observatory’s work that does not directly support PCTs could suffer.

Association of Public Health Observatories chair Brian Ferguson said: “It is vitally important that all public health observatories are operating to give the maximum possible support to their PCTs on the commissioning agenda.

“This agenda is one of several that the [observatories] pursue, given their vital role in supporting central policy making, as well as local and regional government.

“In any proposed local merger involving a public health observatory, it will be important to recognise and preserve this wider agenda,” he said.

Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, who established the regional observatories, said he was assured its “core functions” would not change.

He told HSJ: “Public health observatories are a vital part of health surveillance and analysis of key health policies and trends. Any new organisational arrangements need to reinforce this context and preserve the vital functions that the observatories perform.”

No one from NHS London or Commissioning Support for London was available to comment.