Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the introduction of a condensed new NHS Mandate is a "very historic moment" for the health service.
He said the contract made the health service "operationally independent" and sent out a "very strong signal (that the Government is) ambitious and optimistic about how the NHS can improve."
Mr Hunt told the Commons:
This is the first time that we have tried to represent the operational independence of the NHS by disciplining ourselves as ministers to condense what we want the NHS to focus on into a document of only 28 pages.
We are removing the ability of ministers to performance-manage the entire NHS from behind their desks in Whitehall. We are replacing that with operational independence for professionals on the front line and the way that we are doing that is by limiting ourselves to specifying outcomes, not specifying processes.