Mr Johnson writes about the 'significant milestones' achieved in primary care in 2008. He also thanks GPs and their practice teams for the 'outstanding job' they are doing.
The health secretary forecasts that a GP's role will become even more critical in 2009, enabling people to take more control over their own health.
A New Year's message from Alan Johnson
There's no such thing as a quiet year in the life of the NHS and 2008 was no exception.
In primary care alone, we've seen many significant milestones: more surgeries opening in the evenings and at weekends; new investment for GP practices in under-doctored areas; and we've agreed fairer funding for GP practices with the BMA.
Primary care is what defines the NHS. Over the past year, I have been lucky enough to visit practices across the country, seeing first hand the outstanding job that GPs, practice nurses and primary care staff do.
Easy access to a doctor if you're sick or worried about your health is the bit of the NHS that the public cherishes the most.
In 2009 and beyond, the role of GPs will become even more critical. It is GPs who will lead the fight against major preventable illnesses and lifestyle diseases such as obesity.
And it is GPs who can enable people to take more control over their own health - whether by managing a long-term condition more effectively or by leading a healthier life.
So thank you for all your hard work and for everything you've achieved and I wish you every success for 2009.
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