The funding crisis that is forcing the closure of hospital wards and units across the country is meeting tough resistance from campaigners.
Pressure is growing on health service unions to call major protests in defence of the NHS on Saturday 3 March, which union leaders have agreed will be a day of action over the health service.
Many of the tens of thousands who have already marched against NHS cuts – and many more besides – will respond to a call to demonstrate.
But there is a debate about what sort of protests will take place in each of the TUC’s eight regions.
“There should be a demonstration in London for the whole of the south east of England,” says Mark Ladbrooke, branch chair of Oxford Health Unison and a member of Unison’s health service group executive.
“Up and down the country we are seeing some huge meetings and protests against hospital closures. There is a real thirst for action among the public.
“Unions like mine should be tapping into that mood.
“Lots of health workers are facing terrible cuts and they are worried about the future. Uniting those workers with local vibrant campaigns could give them a real confidence boost.”
The London NHS Together group, which unites all the health service unions, is set to meet on Thursday next week. It is vital that senior union representatives at that meeting are bombarded with requests for vigorous action on 3 March.
In the north west of England NHS Together has called for lobbies of local MPs and campaigning in town and city centres.
A protest outside cabinet minister Hazel Blears’ surgery would brilliantly expose the hypocrisy of politicians that support the government’s health policy – except when it hits their own constituency.
“It would be easy to turn the call for ‘campaigning in town centres’ into rallies and protests that match the mood of anger that exists among the public,” said Mark.
To find out what is happening in your region go to www.tuc.org.uk/tuc/regions_main.cfm