Writing exclusively for GPonline.com, Lord Howe said that although many people think 2013 will be the most challenging year yet for the NHS, he believed that placing GPs in charge of care meant it would be an outstanding year for the health service.
He wrote: 'GPs know patients better than anyone else and we want you to be central to improving patient care. I have every confidence in your leadership, expertise and dedication to do that.
'Many argue this will be the most challenging year the NHS has ever faced. But with GPs at the heart of shaping local health services, I believe it will end up being one of its best.'
The health minister also defended the government's position over the GP contract, saying the changes are needed because 'the world does not stand still and nor does good healthcare'.
But he rejected claims the government walked away from negotiations with the BMA.