Commenting on the publication of today's mandate from the Government to the NHS Commissioning Board, NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said:
"This mandate represents a major sea change for the NHS. It sets out a clear vision of what the public can expect from the NHS. We are pleased the government has listened to the views we put forward on behalf of the health service. We argued that it should not be too detailed or prescriptive.
"It was really important that the Government avoided stuffing the mandate to the gunnels with detailed targets for every condition under the sun. While that might have looked superficially attractive, it would have meant more top-down prescription and less innovation and responsiveness to local needs.
"The real challenge for the Government now is to stay true to its word and use the mandate to give the NHS stability, rather than use it as a tool to reset priorities on a regular basis.
"The NHSCB must take advantage of the opportunity it now has now been given to get power to the front line. The NHS has always wanted to have more freedom. Now we have a chance to show we can make it work.
"We will hold ministers to their word that they will not try to revise the mandate on an ad hoc piecemeal basis in response to the latest issue that hits the headlines.
"The NHS has just undergone the biggest structural reorganisation of its history. It faces enormous strategic challenges to remain sustainable in the future. It desperately needs a stable environment so that it can concentrate on these big issues on behalf of the public.
"We particularly welcome the focus on service change and the importance of delivering a clear evidence base. We would urge politicians to take this opportunity to start a clear dialogue with the public about why some local NHS services will need to change. It is important that NHS leaders and politicians explain clearly what they can gain from service change, rather than focussing on what is being taken away".
Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, a part of the NHS Confederation, added:
"For many NHS staff, the nature of their work can be physically and mentally challenging so we are pleased to see the particular focus from Government on making staff health and wellbeing a key issue in the mandate.
"Investing in safe, healthy workplaces not only increases productivity and raises morale, but it improves patient outcomes and experience."