A hospital trust had to get a £15 million loan from the Government to help it pay the bills.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust made the request to the Department of Health to ensure it had cash in the bank to pay its creditors on time.

The trust was one of only eight health authorities who requested a working capital loan last year to help with everyday running costs.

The authority made the request in September last year and made its first repayment of £1.5 million in March. The loan will be paid back in six-month instalments over the next five years.

Details of the loan were made public in an Audit Commission report into NHS trust finances.

A Brighton and Sussex University Trust spokeswoman said the loan would help the authority to build up a surplus as part of its bid to become a foundation trust.

She said: “The loan is basically a cash buffer to support our financial recovery.

“While we are paying off the loan, we can continue to strengthen our financial position and establish our own in-year surplus to recreate that buffer with our own income.”

The report also revealed that the trust reported itself to the commission about a potential breach of regulations regarding a £830,000 contract for advice on proposals for the regeneration of Royal Sussex County Hospital .

The referral was one of only seven of its kind issued regarding NHS trusts in the last financial year.

After reporting the incident, the trust said it sought independent professional advice and took steps to prevent any repeat. The Audit Commission concluded it did not need to take any action.

The report showed that Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was among only ten trusts in the country with a deficit last year.

The trust, which is responsible for Crawley and Horsham hospitals and serves 420,000 people in the north east of West Sussex and east Surrey, had a £6.1 million deficit for 2011/12.

The trust said the deficit, which increased by 7% in a year, was agreed within its annual budget.

A spokeswoman said: “We successfully delivered our agreed budget, the £7.7 million of savings and an extensive capital building programme which delivered on budget and on time.”

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust was named among the top ten trusts financially in the country, with a surplus of £5.4 million.