University Hospitals of Leicester Trust has been issued with a Care Quality Commission warning notice after an inspection revealed lengthy trolley waits, resulting in “a lack of privacy and dignity”.

The watchdog said it had “major concerns” over the care and welfare of people who use Leicester Royal Infirmary’s medical admissions unit.

The regulator carried out inspections at Leicester Royal Infirmary’s medical admissions unit on 16 March after concerns were raised about patients spending too long on trolleys waiting for beds.

A report published this week showed inspectors saw one patient with a learning disability, who was described as “anxious and tearful”, still waiting for a bed after two hours when CQC inspectors left the ward at 7pm.

Staff told the inspectors the trust policy of not having more than six people waiting on a trolley was regularly exceeded.

An ad hoc recording system revealed on one date a patient had waited eight hours for a bed while another had waited six hours.

The CQC also found medication trolleys were not secure and one drugs cabinet was found unlocked.

A staff comments book was also examined with many comments from concerned staff about the numbers of patients on trolleys. It was not clear that when issues were raised they had been properly addressed, the inspectors said.

A GP admissions area was labelled by inspectors as “cramped, hot and the overall atmosphere was chaotic”.

They added: “The flooring was badly soiled. This overall environment presented a hygiene risk.”

In its report the CQC said: “Some patients were transferred to the ward on trolleys, or to wait on chairs, when it was inappropriate to do so because they had specific needs which could put them at greater risk.

“Whilst patients waited on trolleys, or on chairs, for lengthy periods of time they experienced a lack of privacy and dignity.”

In a statement to HSJ the hospital trust said it had now stopped the practice of patients waiting on trolleys and it believed it was now meeting the required standards.

Kevin Harris, Leicester’s medical director, said: “We are confident we have addressed all of the concerns and are now compliant. We believe that the inspectors concerns about a lack of privacy and dignity for patients has been addressed because patients are no longer waiting, or being cared for, on trolleys.

“The inspectors would have learned from staff that meetings now take place and staff feel able to raise concerns and that managers would act on them.”

The CQC visited the trust again on 4 May and will publish an update on the trust in coming weeks.