Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

NHS boards to be culled in plan

Surgeons (pic posed by models)
The 22 local health boards were created in April 2003

The number of local health boards (LHBs) in Wales will be cut from 22 to to seven under plans unveiled by the assembly government after consultation.

Health Minister Edwina Hart said the new LHBs would be established in shadow form from June and would be fully operational from October.

The health minister said the changes would give LHBs a "new purpose".

The smaller LHBs had been criticised for not being big enough to deal with the NHS trusts, who manage hospitals.

When she first announced the plans for fewer LHBs in April 2008, Ms Hart said the proposals would help improve patient care.

They have since been out for consultation twice resulting in changes to the plans.

The only LHB which is guaranteed to remain under the proposals is that for Powys.

1 Betsi Cadwallader LHB - Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham, Anglsey and Gwynedd
2 Hywel Dda LHB - Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire
3 Abertawe Bro Morganwg University LHB - Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend
4 Powys Teaching LHB Powys county
5 Cwm Taf LHB - Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil
6 Cardiff and Vale LHB - Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan
7 Aneurin Bevan LHB - Gwent

The 22 LHBs were created in April 2003 by former Labour assembly government health minister Jane Hutt.

They reflected the map of local councils in Wales and were intended to bring decision-making closer to communities.

Wales' five health authorities - Dyfed-Powys, Iechyd Morgannwg, Gwent, Bro Taf and North Wales - were abolished at the same time and £31m of debt was wiped out.

Ms Hutt at the time said the LHBs would provide "local solutions to local problems".

Each was created with 26 representatives across health and local social services - including dentists, pharmacists, doctors and patients - looking at local needs.

Conservatives and Plaid Cymru criticised the move at the time, claiming it would increase bureaucracy.

There has been criticism since that the LHBs are simply too small, with expertise spread too thinly and were not big enough to deal with the NHS trusts, who manage hospitals.

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