The DoH has drafted a series of indicators that allow trusts to compare their efficiency.
Trusts are expected to save cash by taking steps including cutting variation in outpatient referral rates, managing thresholds for surgery and cutting emergency admissions to hospital.
The DoH believes that a total saving of £2.2 billion is possible if all trusts match the efficiency of the best 25 per cent of trusts nationally.
Bernard Crump, chief executive of the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, said: ‘These indicators will help NHS clinicians compare their organisations to the best-performing ones and identify where the largest improvements in care and value can be made.’
However, GPC deputy chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘This will push more work into the community and limit referrals more. It will also make it harder for hospitals to deliver care to patients.’
He added that it was strange that the government had drawn up efficiency plans so long after coming into power.
Health minister Andy Burnham said: ‘Productivity is about working smarter, not harder. Improved efficiency will deliver better services to patients and better value to the taxpayer.’