NHS Confederation policy director Nigel Edwards has said the health service faces significant changes under the new government.

Mr Edwards said the programme laid out by the coalition government could change the way the NHS is run, funded and held accountable.

But he added that details still needed to be worked out.

Mr Edwards said: “The changes to the way PCT boards and chief executives are appointed are interesting and could help to make local decision making feel more transparent and accessible.

“But that new approach will need to work with the new NHS board and be balanced with national priorities, not least the need to find £20bn of savings in the next four years,” he added.

He said changes set out in areas such as regulation, the GP contract and out of hours care represented a “considerable shift” for the NHS, which would have to rise to the challenge of this new agenda and work to understand its implications.

“The emphasis placed upon both public health and mental health issues in the document is also welcome and will hopefully reflect a commitment which will continue throughout the lifetime of this government,” he added.