Launching the first chapter of the Conservatives' draft health manifesto in London, Mr Cameron promised to protect the NHS budget from cuts and offered 'small real-term increases' in funding.
But NHS growth under the Conservatives would be 'less than what people are used to', and would mean cuts in other public services, said Mr Cameron.
New 'health premiums' will divert extra public health funding to areas with the worst health outcomes, with more money available to trusts that improve the health of their populations.
Mr Cameron also announced that GPs and other health professionals would be organised into ‘maternity networks' to provide services for new mothers.
The NHS looks set to be a key battleground in the run up to the election, as posters of the Tory leader under the slogan: 'I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS' were revealed.
The Tory manifesto says GPs who do not provide good care will be made to ‘raise their game' and their pay will increasingly be linked to patient outcomes.
The Conservatives also aim to cut NHS management costs by a third and redirect funds to frontline doctors and nurses.
Editor's blog: No Dave, we can't go on like this ...