Inspectors have described a “culture of fear” within the surgical theatres at a private hospital that largely treats NHS patients in Greater Manchester.

Oaklands Hospital in Salford, which is run by Ramsay Health Care UK and provides surgery, outpatients and diagnostic imaging services, has been rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission after an inspection in October.

Ramsay said it “acted immediately” after the inspection by “standing down the management team and appointing a new team specifically selected to fix all the issues”.

The hospital’s surgery services were heavily criticised in the report, with the regulator saying: “There was a culture of fear within theatres, which resulted in staff not challenging unsafe behaviours…

“Staff told us there were occasions when the anaesthetist responsible for keeping patients safe during surgery left the operating theatre for periods of up to 20 minutes.”

The report said staff in the theatre and recovery area did not have the correct level of life support training, while preoperative anaesthetic assessment records were incomplete or missing in several cases.

It also highlighted “substantial and frequent staff shortages in theatres”, which resulted in overreliance on agency and bank staff.

In the leadership domain, the CQC said the “response to complaints was sometimes defensive” and “staff including senior managers did not recognise, assess and mitigate risks appropriately”.

More than 90 per cent of the hospital’s inpatient, day case and outpatients were funded by the NHS in the year to June 2016, the report said.

Ramsay UK chief executive Mark Page, said: “I am confident that the new hospital management team and the staff of Oaklands, together with clinical governance support from Ramsay UK has implemented significant improvements since this time.

“While there can be no denying the seriousness of the issues which need to be fixed, we were pleased that the CQC report rated Oaklands Hospital good in the area of caring, and highlighted that our staff treated patients with kindness and respect.”