By politics.co.uk staff
Health secretary Andrew Lansley has acknowledged there will be "uncertainty" in the NHS as he makes "tough choices" in coming years.
The Department of Health's funding was ringfenced in chancellor George Osborne's emergency Budget, leaving funding increasing in every year of this parliament.
That decision means average departmental budget cuts have increased from 20% to 25%, but Mr Lansley insisted it would not mean that the NHS would escape pressure in the age of austerity.
He told the NHS Confederation annual conference this afternoon that increasing demand and the need to improve the quality of service meant tough choices are faced.
"I know the changes I propose are far reaching," Mr Lansley said.
"And as decision-making shifts and as we work together to deliver change, I know there will be some uncertainty. But I can and will create a bridge between the past and the future and help map out the journey we need to take."
The coalition government's agenda for the NHS centres on a more patient-focused approach, in which outcomes rather than targets are prioritised.
Public health and preventing ill health are to be given greater emphasis, while professionals are to be 'set free' through a reduction in their oversight. Social care is also set for reform.
"I will engage all NHS staff - doctors, nurses, and managers in working out how to implement a strategy with one shared vision in mind - to improve NHS care for patients and the public it serves," Mr Lansley added.