The NHS should be given greater freedom from government intervention if it is to achieve stability and success, according to a report co-written by the former head of the Department of Health strategy unit.

The report Things can only get better: the argument for NHS independence from Birmingham University's Health Services Management Centre, published this week, claims that micro-management of the NHS by politicians hinders the development of services.

Professor Chris Ham, one of the report's authors, said: 'A successful NHS is seen as an acid test of any government's record. This means that there is a temptation for politicians to tinker with structures and introduce initiatives to show their commitment to the service.'

The report proposes a new model for an independent NHS, with a reduced role for government. The government would have responsibility for setting the overall priorities and budget.

But the report suggests that the NHS should be able to decide for itself how best to meet overall targets and allocate money.