Health minister Lord Howe has told HSJ GPs should press on with commissioning consortium development, despite the government’s “pause” and “listening exercise”. 

Asked whether GPs should continue the process locally, he said: “Yes, yes, yes. This [listening process] is about hearing from GPs as they implemement pathfinders to tell us what issues we should be looking at.”

The comments come as prime minister David Cameron announces a panel to review and advise on NHS reform. Lord Howe said it would be called a “Future Forum”.

He said: “They [GPs developing consortia] must on no account stop what they’re doing. In fact it is more important [now than before] for us to hear from them what practical lessons they have learnt.”

Lord Howe was speaking to HSJ today at the GP Forum event.

He said the government was “encouraging” pathfinders to contribute lessons to the Future Forum process.

Lord Howe defended the government’s decision not to “prescribe” to consortia who should sit on their board - one of the key demands of some Liberal Democrats and the health committee. “It may be a good idea for some consortia to have councillors [on their board] but for god’s sake let’s not let it be me that says so.”

However he said there may be changes to implementation and some amendments to the bill.