According to analysis, 90 per cent of acute hospitals are failing to perform satisfactorily.
With the acute sector having been set stringent targets, over nine out of ten hospitals are failing to meet their requirements.
This is a significant decline from when the acute sector was last assessed earlier this year.
According to the latest data which has been provided by 225 acute hospital sites in England, 207 (92 per cent) failed to achieve their planned staffing levels for qualified nurses working during the day.
The data, which has been published on the NHS Choices website, also indicated that 182 hospitals in the NHS failed to have enough registered nurses working at night.
These disturbing figures can be placed in the context of increasing difficulties within the health service.
Numerous financial issues have come to light in recent months, not least the fact that the NHS is expected to accumulate a deficit of £2 billion in the existing fiscal year.
And reports from within the NHS have indicated that the health service is already running at winter occupancy levels ahead of the busiest period of the year.
Meanwhile, the debate and dispute related to the pay and working conditions of junior doctors rumbles on, with industrial action expected following a vote later this week.
The deterioration in performance may reflect trusts increasing their planned levels for registered nurses on wards following safe staffing guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published last year.
It was already known ahead of the release of the statistics that there is a nationwide shortage of nurses, but the extent of this has been laid bare by the figures.
Research indicated that eleven hospitals within the NHS were able to fill less than 80 per cent of the required capacity with regard to nursing numbers.
And the majority were not able to fill 90 per cent of this quotient, 69 per cent of hospitals assessed having a fill rate of 80-90 per cent according to the NHS Choices figures.
Hospitals from various regional locations were found to be underperforming and struggling to reach nursing capacity, with the issue clearly an NHS-wide phenomenon.
The opinion of analysts and healthcare professionals is that the Francis report is central to the existing situation.
While the dearth in nursing provisions is worrying, it is equally clear that the NHS needs to invest significantly in nursing to meet increasing demand.
Better quality care, superior operational efficiency, and improved NHS performance with regard to treating conditions are all known to be hugely dependent on nursing staff.
This massive issue is yet another facing the NHS at a time of crisis in the health service.