Local medical committees (LMCs) will have a key role to play within the reformed NHS, the Department of Health has confirmed.
In a letter to the GPs' Committee (GPC), Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has allayed fears that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) were being permitted to "sideline" LMCs.
"As well as protecting the existing legislative framework, we would therefore 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," he wrote.
Dr Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the GPC, said LMCs will be able to offer CCGs advice free from the dangers of conflicts of interest.
He warned CCGs should take LMCs seriously. Failure to do so means they may risk their success in the authorisation process, he argued.
"The letter gives strong reassurance that the Department of Health doesn't intend to change the framework or structure of LMCs," said Vautrey.
However, he confirmed the GPC will still seek legal advice around the wording of the letter.
Speaking about the recent Health and Social Care Bill debate in the House of Lords, Vautrey said the committee was "pleased" with the debate as peers "clearly understood our concerns".
"We will continue to lobby for a number of amendments to be made and we look forward to negotiating further," he said.