The Conservative Party has proposed handing control of NHS budgets to GPs and replacing waiting targets with measurements of improvements in health outcomes.

Conservative leader David Cameron and shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley this week pledged to put GPs 'in the driving seat' and align the NHS with patient needs.

They said they would scrap targets and introduce an NHS Independence Bill to take politicians out of the day-to-day running of the health service.

Mr Lansley said: 'We must move away from one-size-fits-all targets, which are centrally imposed. The NHS should be given freedom to make clinical decisions, but be accountable for the outcome.

'We propose to use measures of health outcome which reflect the quality of service provided from start to finish of care.'

Health outcomes might include survival rates for cancer, stroke and heart attacks, said Mr Cameron.

Mr Lansley added: 'The family doctor service is central to the way the NHS should work. We need them to have incentives to deliver the best outcomes for patients and to be able to do so by controlling budgets for their patients. Giving the family GP more responsibility will mean they can combine clinical decisions with accountability to their patients.'

Citing evidence from the King's Fund, the Conservatives said GP fundholders reduced waiting lists, prescribing costs and hospital admissions.