HSJ’s round up of Thursday’s key stories and talking points

The great financial standoff

Trust leaders have upped the ante in their troubled relationship with regulators after telling HSJ that they simply cannot make any more financial savings without affecting frontline services.

The warnings follow instructions from Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority earlier this month for providers to submit plans by 21 August for how they could improve their 2015-16 financial positions – by reducing their planned deficit or improving their surplus.

One trust chief said they had told the TDA they could not improve their financial position “without a significant compromise to access standards, the provision of service and quality of care”.

They added: “With the array of regulatory requirements, including from Monitor and TDA, we cannot improve our position unless we are specifically advised that other standards and requirements can be dropped in the short term.”

A number of foundation trust directors told us they would not be able to cut their deficits any further without affecting patient safety, and that they had sent this message to Monitor.

With strong words, one reader responds: “The regulators and the Department of Health are either in denial of the sheer scale of the problem or genuinely believe trusts are lazy and incompetent.

“The payment system is broken. Monitor and TDA are facing a Mexican standoff with provider boards. It’s deficits at dawn!”

Peerage so big you can see it from space

Names for the next slew of peerages to be awarded have been floating around for a couple of weeks now.

However, heads turned on Thursday when the published list of those nominated for honorifics included one Andrew Lansley.

While we are yet to know what the former health secretary’s full title will be when he enters the House of Lords, one enterprising HSJ hack had a suggestion:

Bullying policy ‘not fit for purpose’

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust’s policy for dealing with bullying and harassment is “not fit for purpose”, according to an independent review.

However, the report said that there was “insufficient evidence” to conclude that bullying and harassment was “endemic” at the trust.

In March, the TDA commissioned the Good Governance Institute to investigate allegations of bullying at Worcestershire Acute.

The report, published on Thursday, said that the trust’s “dignity at work” policy for addressing bullying and harassment is “not fit for purpose, either as a document or in the way it is administered”.

The trust’s new chief executive said it accepted all the report’s recommendations.