Access to an NHS practice nurse within 24 hours has been "guaranteed" in the 2010 NHS Operating Framework unveiled by chief executive David Nicholson.
The Framework also promises that patients will have access to a GP within 48 hours and at evenings and weekends, encouraging trusts to commission extra services from practices which will not extend their hours.
It is thought patient expectations about access to their health service will be increased as a result of next year's Framework, but also hoped that hospitals, PCTs and practice-based commissioners will work to move services out of hospitals as a result of tariff changes.
The new system, welcomed by the NHS Alliance, will withhold hospital payments if urgent care activity increases and patient satisfaction targets are missed.
According to the King's Fund, the 2010 Operating Framework indicates better co-operation between community services, hospitals and primary care in the future.
Mr Nicholson said next year's 5.5% growth will be the last for a significant increase in PCT allocations. Instead, the NHS's budget will rise in line with inflation from 2012 onwards.