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Hospitals to face fines if patients are readmitted within 30 days

Hospitals will incur financial penalties if patients are readmitted as an emergency within 30 days of being discharged, under new Government plans.

The move to hold hospitals responsible for patients' health up to a month after they are discharged will be unveiled later today by health secretary Andrew Lansley, in his first major speech in his new role.

In a radical upheaval of the Payment by Results system, Mr Lansley will say that hospitals in England will be paid for initial treatment only, and not receive extra money if a patient is readmitted with a related problem.

The reforms are being made amid fears that many patients have been discharged from hospital early in order to meet the previous government's waiting list targets.

Mr Lansley will say: ‘I begin by talking about my ambition: for health outcomes and health care services to be as good as any in the world.'

‘I know it won't happen by more process-targets, more data returns, by issuing more Department of Health circulars, by more pointless structural upheavals, or increasing the number of administrators in primary care trusts, nor even just by supplying more money.'

‘I know these things either don't work or work against improving outcomes, because they have been the approach of the last government over 13 years.'

He will add that ‘reforms have stalled' as ‘targets have trumped quality'.

‘So we need change,' he will say. ‘We need to set the service free to deliver high-quality care, based on evidence of what works. Accountable for results. Accountable to informed and engaged patients. Focused on what matters to patients – cleanliness, safety and positive patient experience.'