NHS trusts that fail to meet standards will now face a new "super-regulator" for health and social care.
The new Care Quality Commission (CQC) will have tough powers over registering NHS trusts, including the chance to suspend or even prosecute those that are substandard and not improving fast enough.
The new body formally replaces the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission, and will register all dentists, GPs, hospitals, care homes and mental health trusts.
The new watchdog's chairman, Baroness Young, said CQC would drill deeper to pick out the information wanted by the public, such as the outcome for particular operations.
She said there was no doubt the public was interested in the quality of their local GP services, adding: "Over the next year we are going to have increasing regulation of providers and a very different system for doing it.
"We will have more enforcement powers. For example, we will bring all NHS bodies in for regulation for the first time and measure them against a whole range of quality criteria.
"From 2011/12, the government has agreed in principle that we will bring primary care services, GPs and dentists, under our regulation."
But Baroness Young said there was still work to be done to calculate exactly how GPs and their performance would be monitored.