More emphasis should be put on tackling public health issues like obesity, drugs, smoking and alcohol, says a Conservative health policy review.
Clinicians should be given management, the policy group says
It proposes measures to strengthen the Chief Medical Officer's office, with a separate budget for public health - and all government departments involved.
It also seeks to cut NHS red tape and proposes more powers for patients.
The report from the group, appointed by 18 months ago to look at the NHS in England, is not binding on the party.
It was published the day before Mr Cameron and his health spokesman Andrew Lansley are expected to publish their health policy plans.
The policy review group says people should take individual "responsibility" for their health, with the government informing people of potential dangers of their lifestyle choices, rather than making those choices for them.
It also says the NHS needs to meet the changing needs of patients, such as the increase in the number of elderly patients.
The policy group, chaired by former Cabinet minister Stephen Dorrell and Tory peer Baroness Perry, was given the brief of providing ideas which "sustain and develop the NHS" while avoiding "further pointless organisational upheaval".
It says its proposals will increase professional autonomy, reduce bureaucratic intervention, improve transparency and enhance accountability.
Among suggestions is a new statutory duty for independent self-regulatory bodies, such as the General Medical Council, to report annually to Parliament, while retaining independence.
Professionals with clinical experience should be put in management positions, and clinicians should be involved in decisions about future services, the policy group suggested.
They should also help establish a set of "outcome measurements" to show how individual trusts and hospitals are performing.
A "health watch" body should be set up to monitor local health services on behalf of local communities.
It sets out five tests to measure success in the NHS:
- Accountability: The NHS must be accountable to patients not bureaucrats
- Change: The NHS must change to reflect the changing needs of all patients, such as more elderly people
- Quality: The NHS must deliver care reflecting professional guidance from healthcare professions leaders and NICE
- Innovation: The NHS must take advances in technology at least as fast as health services in European neighbours
- Productivity: The NHS must be committed to constant productivity improvement to ensure good value to taxpayers as well as high quality care to patients.
The NHS Confederation, which represents 90% of NHS organisations, welcomed the report and said that public health should be a "key priority".
Its chief executive Dr Gill Morgan said there was now a political consensus backing "increased autonomy" for local NHS services.
"We are therefore delighted that Stephen Dorrell and his team have prioritised greater freedom for healthcare professionals alongside clear accountability of outcomes," she said.