A joint paper by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, NHS Confederation and the Healthcare Financial Management Association said there needs to be a 'strategic approach' to change.
It said the NHS must look to find 'true efficiencies' that deliver improved quality, maintain patient safety and are sustainable in the long term.
It said rather than resorting to cutting staff and services, large-scale planned service redesign and reconfiguration based on clinical evidence should play an 'important part' in any strategies to cope with financial pressures.
It said if service redesign is managed well and involves the public, doctors and other healthcare staff then it can improve and not damage patient care.
Nigel Edwards, acting chief executive of the NHS Confederation, also outlined that strong leadership and careful planning are crucial to ensure patient care is not affected. 'The NHS is facing the greatest ever challenge to the way it works and the way it cares for patients.'
He added: 'Now is the time for everyone working in the health service to focus on how best to provide improvements in care while working more efficiently.'