Many NHS trusts have admitted to failing to meet basic standards of safety and quality of care, the Healthcare Commission has revealed.
Two-thirds of NHS trusts failed to meet the core targets
Just one-third of the 570 trusts in England said they had met all 44 of the government's core healthcare targets.
This is the first time every NHS trust in England has issued a public declaration on how they have performed against basic competence goals.
The findings will inform the commission's annual trust assessment.
This yearly health check, due out in October, will replace the old "star ratings" evaluation system.
Now, each trust will be given a performance rating for quality of care and use of resources on a four-point scale ranging from weak to excellent.
NHS watchdog, the Healthcare Commission, said this new method provides patients and the public with a "richer picture of performance" than was possible with the previous system.
The 44 core targets, set by the Department of Health, cover the minimum standards in safety, clinical effectiveness, governance and patient focus.
Under this new self-assessment evaluation, every trust must declare whether they have met each of the objectives.
'The first step'
A quarter of the trusts admitted to not meeting at least four of these targets, while 10 of the trusts told the health watchdog they had failed to achieve at least 14 - an overall failing, according to the commission.
Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, said: "We are encouraged by the way many boards have put their hands up and declared non-compliance with some of the standards. The first step to sorting out a problem is identifying that there is one.
"A trust that declares non-compliance with some of the standards is one we want to work with. All boards that have done so must now take action to address the areas where they believe they are weak. The standards are not optional.
"Where a trust has declared significant non-compliance, we will be following that up with them and their strategic health authority."
The commission said action against failing trusts could be an action plan or a formal investigation.
About 20% of trusts will now be visited by the commission to verify that their performance is at the level they have declared.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We are pleased that 75% of trusts assess themselves as achieving at least 90% of all the standards.
"We expect organisations to act straight away to make improvements if they see evidence of a problem. The Department of Health will take the necessary actions to respond to problems with any trusts when the overall performance ratings are published."
Dr Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents more than 90 per cent of NHS organisations, said: "The publication of these declarations... is good news for patients and the public because they will provide them with more meaningful information about the performance of their local hospital and health services.
"In a world of increased choice for patients this can only be a good thing."