A hospital trust in financial special measures has improved its payment of suppliers after getting a £25.5m loan from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Some suppliers threatened to take legal action against Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust and stop delivering vital equipment last year because of late payments.

The NHS Better Payments Practice Code says 95 per cent of bills should be paid within 30 days, and the trust’s performance was at 12.8 per cent in February and 17.6 per cent in March. But the trust’s most recent board papers said this figure had risen to 49.7 per cent for April after the receipt of working capital. In September last year, it had reached a low of 8 per cent.

In April, an independent report found the issue had potentially put patients in danger – and that the temporary freezing of supplies threatened the trust’s ability to perform caesarean operations.

The east London trust received £45m in “emergency loan support” in 2017-18, the board papers said. No suppliers have placed the trust on hold or taken legal action in the past four months, it added, although it still has £14.1m in debt owed to suppliers that is more than 60 days overdue.

The trust was placed in financial special measures in February and ended the 2017-18 financial year with a deficit of £49m.

The £558m-turnover trust submitted a deficit plan of £34.8m for 2018-19, which NHS Improvement has not accepted, the board papers said.