The finding comes as GP practices prepare to start the process of registering with the regulator this summer, ahead of the formal date of 31 March 2013 by which they must all be registered.
The report is the first analysis by the CQC of how well NHS providers are meeting quality and safety standards, and is based on unannounced inspections of more than 14,000 locations across England.
Once GP practices are registered with the CQC, the regulator will inspect practices once every two years.
The report found that 72% of adult social care providers, 77% of NHS service providers and 82% of independent healthcare providers met the CQC’s essential standards.
But more than a fifth (21%) of the 581 NHS healthcare organisations inspected failed to meet at least one essential standard. The CQC had to implement urgent action in 1% of cases (representing seven organisations).
Out of the NHS hospitals inspected by the CQC 15% did not meet staffing standards. Inspectors found that ‘non-availability of temporary staff and vacancies in qualified staff often led to compromises around the care and welfare of people using services and support for staff, including training and supervision'.
However, the CQC said hospitals were good at dealing with the safety of equipment and having staff that are qualified and fit for the job.
Independent healthcare providers performed slightly better. Around 18% of the 856 locations inspected failed to meet one CQC standard or more. A total of 13% failed to meet record keeping standards and 12% failed at management of medicines.
Adult social care service providers performed worst out of all those inspected, with 27% of 11,808 locations not meeting one or more essential standards.
Dental providers fared best, with just 12% of 796 locations inspected failing to meet one or more standards.
Responding to the report, NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: ‘NHS organisations will want to look closely at these results to identity what they should be doing to improve standards and ensure compliance.
‘It is important to note that the number of organisations deemed to be falling short so seriously that the most drastic action was required is small. However, this is another salutary reminder that the NHS must not drop the ball on caring for patients as it faces significant financial and organisational pressures.’