The proportion of foundation trusts admitting that they are failing on core standards has risen year on year for the first time.
Nearly a third said they failed to comply with all the core standards during 2008-09 in annual health check self declarations submitted to the Care Quality Commission.
Foundation trust leaders are denying that the figures have been skewed by lower standards among the newer foundation trusts or that the regulator Monitor has “lowered the bar” for gaining foundation status.
Foundation Trust Network director Sue Slipman said the rising number of foundations explained the change.
“The achievements of those coming through may not be as high yet,” she said.
In 2005-06 - the first year figures were recorded - half of foundation trusts said they were compliant with all the core standards. This rose to 66 per cent the next year and 72 per cent in 2007-08.
But in 2008-09 the proportion was 64 per cent - a drop of eight percentage points and the first decline.
CQC figures seen by HSJ show the performance of the 89 established foundation trusts was down by seven percentage points compared with last year. This was four percentage points higher than the trusts that gained foundation status in 2008-09.
A Monitor spokeswoman said: “The latest quarterly report on foundation trust performance indicates that [the] sector is delivering well against national standards and targets.”