The new health secretary wants to publish a “simple and short” mandate for the NHS, in order to “unleash local innovation”, he has said.

Jeremy Hunt, asked about the Mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board at the Conservative Party conference on Monday, said: “I want to be as unprescriptive as possible in the Mandate because I think the whole spirit of the reforms is to unleash local innovation - to set outcomes we are are aiming for and allow local solutions.

“I do want it to be something the public can relate to and staff can relate to. So I think it needs to be simple and short, but have a vision as to where we want the NHS to go in the coming years.”

It confirms HSJ’s revelation last month that the new Department of Health ministers want to significantly reduce the length of the Mandate, on which it is currently consulting. However, there remain fears Number 10 could insist on the inclusion of particular specific requirements. The version published for consultation in the summer is about 30 pages. The DH was previously expected to publish a final version this month. It will set out its requirements of the NHS, and its funding.

The content of the Mandate is likely to reflect what Mr Hunt this week identified as his four “priorities” for the coming two years.

The health secretary told attendees of a conference event organised by the Health Hotel group of organisations that he was “a fan of the reforms”.

He added: “The best way to implement them is to choose some priority areas, and say what I want to see in those areas, and make sure the reforms are implemented in a way that patients can see they are of benefit to them.

His first priority is the quality of care, meaning in particular compassion, patients’ experience and essential standards, rather than service effectiveness, he said. “We have a brilliant nursing profession and outstanding managers, but we also have some places where things go wrong,” Mr Hunt said.

The second is care for people with long term conditions; the third dementia services; and the fourth reducing mortality from the major killer diseases.