Expensive ‘guerrilla marketing’ tactics are to be used to persuade people in Yorkshire, Humber and north Lincolnshire that ‘the noise’ about NHS cuts needs to be ‘turned down’.

Marketing and communications specialists have been asked ‘to express an interest’ in the £10,000 nine-month contract  to run from April for the Humber, Coast and Vale Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) by today (Friday 17 February).

Unite, the country’s largest union with 100,000 members in the health service, said that such ‘bizarre’ expenditure when the NHS was faced with a financial crisis was ‘completely unacceptable’.

Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: “The protests against the cuts that the NHS is currently experiencing need to be turned up, not turned down.

“Unite has argued for some time that the 44 STPs across England are a secretive agenda designed to impose even more cuts on NHS frontline services and patient care.  

“The fact this STP wants to spend £10,000 of taxpayers’ money on what is bizarrely described as ‘guerrilla marketing’ to manipulate public opinion is a disgrace and this plan should be dropped like a hot potato.”   

The ‘expression of interest’ for the project states: “Social media and “guerrilla marketing” campaign to link the work of the Humber Coast and Vale Sustainability and Transformation Plan (HCV STP) with real life patient and service user experience.

“We want to turn down the noise about cuts to services and risks to the NHS, and be able to demonstrate that our population understands that a focus on quality and prevention will sustain services into the future.”

The advert for the STP was placed on the website of the East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group. Presentations from the shortlisted marketing organisations are due on 6 March; the contract to be awarded on 13 March, with the campaign to start on 3 April and run for the rest of 2017. 

The major towns covered by the STP include: Beverley, Grimsby, Hull, Scarborough and York.

The latest row comes hard on the heels of protests by Unite at Humber NHS Foundation Trust’s plans to slash health visitors and school nurses by 25 per cent.