NHS Confederation chief executive Stephen Thornton (right) warned the government of the 'danger of cynicism in the service' as it moves to life 'beyond the national plan'.

In his opening address, he also called for 'a local framework for national plan implementation' and 'capital investment to underpin the plan'. He said that to counter the 'danger of cynicism', the government must maintain 'an open consultative style' into the implementation stage of the plan.

The confederation had suggested to health secretary Alan Milburn that members of the proposed modernisation board be drawn from the 'wider membership' of the modernisation action teams.

Mr Thornton linked the development of a local framework for implementing the plan to ensuring additional money given to the NHS was 'spent on genuine modernisation in line with the plan'.

'Such are the huge pent-up pressures locally that all this money could easily be spent on locally important projects that would benefit patient care, but which taken collectively would not transform services in the way I believe the government will intend.'

He suggested that 'delaying revenue expenditure until local plans are drawn up' might go some way towards meeting the need for capital investment. He highlighted the 'virtual absence' of work on reviewing the IT strategy Information for Health as 'one of the weakest aspects' of the modernisation process to date.

Mr Thornton later told HSJ he understood the plan would contain a commitment to end queuing, proposals to boost leadership and investment to help health and social services work together.

He had told the conference that queuing 'could become a thing of the past', but warned against the government turning this aspiration into 'tough new targets'.

Mr Thornton announced the launch of three confederation policy documents - Changing Hospitals, Managing Demand, and A Vision for Primary Care.