The NHS Future Forum, which conducted the recent 'listening exercise' on NHS reform in England, has been asked to provide further feedback to the government on issues including integration and public health.
The Department of Health has asked the Future Forum, a group of health experts led by GP Professor Steve Field (pictured), to continue "a new phase of conversations with patients, service users and professionals".
This will focus on four themes: information; education and training; integrated care, and public health. The Forum will report back to ministers later this year.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley commended the "invaluable" work of the Forum during the listening exercise and said "it gave us the opportunity to address head on the concerns people had."
Yesterday (18 August 2011) Mr Lansley said: "I'm delighted that the NHS Future Forum will continue its excellent work with patients, service users and professionals, looking at important issues such as education and training, and ensuring we work towards an improved healthcare system."
Professor Steve Field said: "With a broader membership across health and social care and a defined focus, I believe the NHS Future Forum will stimulate important debate on issues that really matter to people."
In an exclusive interview with MiP, Professor Field said that overseeing the listening exercise had been "an honour" and strongly denied criticisms that this had been a way for the government to rubber-stamp the Health Bill by demonstrating approval from a selection of healthcare professionals.
"I had not one iota of political interference," he said. ""We heard from thousands of people on the ground. The paper was written in a language that would trigger change in the [Health and Social Care] Bill."
Professor Field also told MiP that practice managers had "a key role and an ongoing role" in facilitating networks and practice leadership, which he said would be increasingly significant in light of the reforms.
The full interview with Professor Field will be published in the upcoming Autumn issue of Management in Practice.