Patricia Hewitt has criticised the 'unacceptable' practice of trust managers instructing hospital consultants not to discuss reworking patient pathways with GPs.

Speaking at an NHS Networks event last week, Ms Hewitt said some consultants were being prevented from working with primary care, as managers tried to stop cuts in trust income.

She warned that the Department of Health would be issuing a 'set of principles' to govern relationships between commissioners and providers. 'It is about co-operating in the interests of patients,' she said. 'Some providers are actually getting in the way of the improvements.'

In an exclusive HSJ interview this week, she said: '[NHS chief executive] David Nicholson and I have discussed this and we regard it as totally unacceptable.'

- National primary care director Dr David Colin-Thom» is retiring from general practice but staying on at the Department of Health. The primary care czar celebrates his retirement from Castlefields health centre in Runcorn tomorrow. The 63-year-old said: 'After 36 years at the practice I will be retiring but I have no immediate plans to step down as czar.'