The chief executive of North Middlesex University hospital has left office following a critical report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The health and social care regulator in England found the functioning of the emergency unit of the hospital to be "inadequate".

A senior executive, Libby McManus, from Royal Free hospital has replaced Julie Lowe on a provisional basis. It is also reported that Royal Free is likely to take over the hospital in the near future.

CQC has been working closely with National Health Service (NHS) Improvement, NHS England, Health Education England and the General Medical Council to improve patient safety.

An unannounced inspection in April revealed that the hospital's Accident & Emergency (A&E) unit was in a crisis and patients were forced to wait for long hours to see a doctor.

The North Middlesex University hospital's A&E unit is one of the busiest in London and treats around 500 patients a day; however, due to the lack of doctors and nurses, inexperienced receptionists were deciding which patients needed medical attention first, the Guardian reported.

"People going to the emergency department at the North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust are entitled to a service that provides safe, effective, compassionate and high quality care. When we inspected we found that patients were waiting for a long time to be seen, without being assessed by a doctor in the first place," Sir Mike Richards, the chief inspector of hospitals, said.

"In February 2016, only 67.2% of patients were seen and treated within the national four hour target, compared to an England average of 88%," the scathing CQC report said.

An action plan has been put in place to improve the condition of the hospital and CQC has said that inspectors will return in the near future to evaluate progress. It also said that a full report of the latest inspection will be published soon.

"We have already seen some progress since that original inspection. A new leadership team is in place in the emergency department, there are moves to appoint more senior doctors – and I note that the trust is calling on consultants from other departments within the hospital to provide the routine daily support to A and E which is so badly needed.

"The evidence from our latest inspection last week is that North Middlesex's emergency department has turned a corner, but there is still much more that needs to be done. We will be watching their progress very closely," Richards said.