Hospitals will face financial penalties if patients are readmitted as an emergency within 30 days of being discharged, under government plans to be announced today.
Hospitals will get paid for initial treatment but will not be paid again if a patient is brought back in with a related problem, health secretary Andrew Lansley will say.
It has been argued that some patients are discharged too soon and without proper care plans in place.
Between 1998-99 and 2007-08, the number of emergency readmissions in England rose 52% from 359,719 to 546,354.
Speaking about his vision for the NHS, Mr Lansley will call for patients to be given more control over their health.
He will call for a greater focus on outcomes for patients and for the NHS to listen to what people want.
“We will empower patients as well as health professionals. We will disempower the hierarchy and the bureaucracy,” he will say.
“I want the service to listen to patients, to take responsibility. To realise how much patients know about their need, especially for those living with long-term conditions.
“To give patients and care users more control, exercising choices, through to personal budgets.
“To empower patients collectively, through patient representative groups, impacting on the quality standards and commissioning guidelines, through to patients and the public locally, impacting on decision about access and designing of local services to meet local needs.”
Mr Lansley will say that targets focused on processes, data returns and more Department of Health circulars will not achieve these aims.
Neither will “pointless structural upheavals or increasing the number of administrators in primary care trusts, nor even just by supplying more money”, he will say during a speech in east London.