STRUCTURE: A single forum now represents all of London’s 38 pathfinder consortia.

The Londonwide GP Commissioning Council is chaired by Howard Freeman, one of NHS London’s medical directors, and supported by the Londonwide Local Medical Committees, whose chief executive is Michelle Drage.

West London GP Dr Drage told HSJ the council was not itself a decision-making body but would help the pathfinder consortia in the capital establish the consensus for large-scale commissioning decisions.

This would include looking at important service lines – like stroke, cardiac and cancer – and reaching a consensus on whether they were best commissioned at a consortia, London-wide or an intermediate level between the two – equivalent to that of the current primary care trust clusters.

Dr Drage said: “It’s so we don’t do things 38 times. It was bad enough done 31 times [by PCTs]. Pathfinders are on a rapid learning curve and the only other experts are in the PCTs.”

She added: “It’s to see if we can shake things up and get to the holy grail of delivering more in primary care and more focussed secondary care.”

The council will meet monthly and Dr Drage said it would focus on “things that have a real impact on the day to day management of patients in the consulting room”.

The council has not confirmed any areas as priorities yet, but Dr Drage told HSJ that it would be likely to include cancer and mental health services, plus the arrangement of community services.

Initial meetings have so far heard presentations from the Mayor’s Office and London Councils. Upcoming items for discussion include delegated responsibility, conflicts of interest and communications.

Dr Freeman, associate medical director at NHS London, said: “The council is their [consortia] opportunity to network, share learning and speak out with a single voice on how London’s healthcare will operate.

He added: “There may be a pause in the bill but there is no pause in our thinking.”