Tories forced on the back foot - again - over health bill
The government has been forced to backtrack again in its attempt to force through its controversial reforms to the NHS.
This week, the coalition "paused" a key part of its health and social care bill, on its passage through the House of Lords.
A clause that would hand the health secretary's responsibility for the NHS to a quango has been withdrawn, for the moment, while the government has a further "period of reflection".
The move was made to prevent a Liberal Democrat rebellion. But it is also testament to the success of UNISON's campaign against the bill.
"This shows that the pressure we have been exerting is having an effect," said UNISON national secretary for health Christina McAnea. "The 'adopt a peer' campaign, the petitioning, the NHS Big Weekends - all our campaigning is having an impact.
"But we do need to keep that pressure on," she added. "The government will hope that the campaign will die down over Christmas. We mustn't let this happen."
The NHS reforms have been one of the most controversial aspects of government policy.
Ministers had to put the bill on hold in the spring, amid criticisms from the medical profession, academics, MPs and the trade unions. And now its passage through the Lords is taking much longer than expected.
"This is becoming toxic for David Cameron," said Ms McAnea. "He did not expect the campaign to be able to maintain this kind of momentum. The bill is still in the House of Lords, it's still getting headlines in the papers, all the talk is of rebellion.
"At the same time, waiting lists are up, services are being cut, NHS spending is lower this year than last year. People really don't trust the Tories with the NHS."
UNISON believes that the bill should be scrapped in its entirety, as it presents real dangers for the future of the NHS, including a wholesale move towards competition and private providers.
The union is continuing to work closely with the shadow health team, on amendments that will at the very least mitigate the bill's more damaging aspects, including competition and private patient income caps.
Meanwhile, last month UNISON's Say No to Blood Money campaign forced the government to abandon plans to privatise parts of the NHS blood and transplant service.
"It was crunch time for the blood service. It is still crunch time for the NHS," said general secretary Dave Prentis. "We will continue to campaign against the health bill, which is putting the NHS at huge risk."