Mental health wards have been criticised by inspectors who found patients had been held for up to two weeks without being told why.

The Kitwood and Roding mental health wards at St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping have been ordered to improve by the Care Quality Commission.

The wards treat adults with mental health issues, or problems with drugs or alcohol, and those with learning disabilities.

But staff failed to keep vulnerable patients informed and some were not asked for their consent to treatment, with the hospital found to have broken regulations on people who did not have the capacity to make their own decisions.

An inspector said:“Those people who were detained under the1983 Mental Health Act reported only in part that they understood why they were in hospital.

“Only a few people confirmed that they could remember being informed of their rights under the 1983 Mental Health Act.

“We found that one person on Kitwood Ward, who had been detained two weeks prior to our inspection, had not had their rights explained to them.”

The wards met all other national standards, including protecting people from harm, successful management and respect for those being cared for.

The North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, which is in charge of the wards, has been asked to comment.