The History of Local Medical Committess
Prior to the founding of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association in 1832 the medical profession was unregulated – anyone could practice as a doctor. The support for a regulatory body grew alongside membership of the Association, resulting in the formation of the British Medical Association in 1856.
The origin of Local Medical Committees dates back to 1911 and the introduction of the National Health Insurance Bill, when statutory recognition was awarded to committees representing the local voice of doctors, who as independent contractors agreed to provide medical services to the general population. From that time the bodies administering hospital services and family care were obliged to consult with doctors through these representative bodies on a wide range of issues relating to General Practice.
The National Health Service was established in 1948 following the Report by Lord William Beveridge which served as the basis for the post-WWII welfare state. Through the ensuing decades and the many reorganisations that have taken place within the NHS, the responsibilities of LMCs have remained fairly constant. Although the Trade Union and Industrial Relations Act of 1974 led to the BMA being recognised as the Trade Union representing the Medical Profession, LMCs are not Trades Union. Subsequent Acts have reinforced and expanded the statutory recognition and functions of LMCs, in particular the introduction of the new GP Contract in 2004. LMCs acquired responsibilities involving enhanced services, the Quality Outcomes Framework, practice contracts, contract review, dispute resolution, commissioning, premises, etc.
NHS structures continue to face potentially momentous change but looking back over the past century, the issues being addressed today in General Practice are remarkably familiar. As the local, elected body representing General Practitioners the LMC continues to strive to provide support and leadership as a committed partner in the delivery of Primary Care.