No patient should have to wait for more than 12 months for medical treatment, unless it is clinically necessary, Jeremy Hunt has declared.
The Health Secretary announced a £250 million cash injection to end the "unacceptable" year-long waiting period some patients had to endure.
The money will be used to fund 100,000 extra treatments for NHS patients over the summer.
Mr Hunt highlighted a dramatic cut in numbers of people waiting 12 months or more for treatment, which has fallen from 18,458 when the coalition Government came to power in 2010 to 574 now.
Ministers have brought in new rules which could force care homes to shut down if they are not caring for residents properly.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is extending the "special measures system" - which is currently used for hospitals and schools - to include care homes in order to protect vulnerable people after a series of scandals.
Health correspondent Catherine Jones reports.
Warning: This report contains distressing images.
The Health Secretary has said there are "far too many" failing care homes.
Jeremy Hunt said that he would not want his mother, father or grandparents to live in a number of care facilities in England as he announced new measures to tackle failing care homes.
There are many excellent home care providers and many outstanding care homes in this country but there are still too many where I would personally not want my mother or my father or grandparents to live in.
The public have been really shocked by stories of abuse and neglect and we need to give the public confidence that when these things happen they will be spotted quickly and acted on.
Mr Gove said Ofsted-style ratings would be given to care homes and care services and those that are labelled 'inadequate' could be put into special measures or even shut down.
Some care homes "need that much longer" to turn around entrenched problems in the way the facility is run and warrant an extension of their time on special measures, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said.
Chief inspector of hospitals for the CQC, Professor Mike Richards, defended his decision to keep struggling care homes running despite damning findings from the industry watchdog.
Some of them are making progress, it is just that I am not confident that they can, if you like, go it alone. So I have recommended that they have a further six months in special measures.
The chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, has welcomed an expected announcement by Jeremy Hunt that care homes will face tougher inspections.
The Care Quality Commission's (CQC) chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards said:
We have seen significant improvements in almost all of the 11 trusts that were put into special measures, with exceptional progress in two trusts and very good progress in a further three.
The hard work by trust staff that has underpinned this progress should be recognised.
Special measures brings a new focus on quality improvement in trusts which have previously struggled to provide high quality care.
Failing care homes could be could be put into a similar failure category as poor-performing hospitals, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to announce.
Mr Hunt will say that most of the hospital trusts that were put into special measures a year ago have shown significant improvements.
From October more care services across England will now face a "tough" new inspection regime, he will say.
The services that are rated inadequate face being put into "special measures" and if they fail to make improvements following this they could be shut down, he will add.
Putting hospital trusts in special measures was a move introduced as part of the Government's response to the Stafford Hospital scandal.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told ITV News he is "very proud" that NHS hospitals are now publishing staffing levels in every ward on a monthly basis.
A new web page allows patients to hold their local hospital to account by looking at performance indicators.
The measure also means from next year patients will be able to compare staffing levels at different hospitals.
Mr Hunt said publishing more safety data was an "absolutely critical learning point" for the health service following the scandal involving Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.
Health officials are investigating claims that terminally ill children have been illegally euthanised by British doctors.
An official investigation has been launched by the Department of Health into the allegations, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
In February, retired GP Michael Irwin claimed that medics have given sick children overdoses with painkillers.
After being asked about the issue on LBC Radio, Mr Hunt said: "An investigation is now under way by my department.
"The police are not involved at the moment. I'm afraid I am not in a position to comment because it is highly sensitive."
Euthanasia is illegal in Britain but legal in other countries. In February, Belgium became the first country in the world to allow the euthanasia of children.
The Prime Minister has added to his bid to extend GP hours with plans to enhance care services for the elderly.
David Cameron said that around 800,000 people over the age of 75 and those with more serious health complaints will get tailored care, coordinated by just one local GP.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the move is "one of the biggest changes that we need to make in our NHS".
I want to make sure this is completely coordinated to head off problems and keep people from going to hospital unnecessarily.
David Cameron's extensions to GP hours have been praised by NHS England, but a British Medical Association committee chair has said the changes must be properly supported.
NHS England CEO Simon Stevens said the initiative could also free up time for GPs to spend with their sickest patients, giving it "the potential to be a win-win-win for patients, their doctors and the NHS".
But Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association's General Practice Committee, said a more holistic approach was needed "so that community, social and urgent care work in tandem".
He also said ministers must "deliver on their commitment to increase resources in the community," so that GPs can be properly supported.