Deliberately fixing NHS statistics will be made a criminal offence as part of the response to the Mid Staffordshire scandal, it was reported.
Seven-figure fines and jail terms could be imposed on NHS chiefs found to have fiddled waiting time or death rate figures, the Daily Telegraph said.
The move is being considered as part of the Government's response to the Francis Inquiry into the avoidable deaths of up to 1,200 patients in Mid Staffs.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "The future NHS will have a more open culture, with better information for patients and the public. That information must be credible and provided on a basis which is honest and consistent.
"Like me, the public has a deep and abiding affection for the NHS, but scandals such as Mid Staffordshire have affected trust in it. We need to get that trust back."
Manipulation of data had been happening "rarely but consistently for many years", the newspaper quoted a source close to Mr Hunt as saying.
"We feel strongly that if NHS trusts are caught acting fraudulently about their performance on areas such as death rates or waiting times, they should be criminally liable."