Patients are being "lost in the gaps" now, the minister says
A plan for the wholesale reorganisation of the NHS in Wales has been announced by Health Minister Edwina Hart.
All of the NHS trusts in Wales and the 22 local health boards (LHBs) would be scrapped under the proposals.
Instead there would be around seven health organisations taking over all their responsibilities.
Ms Hart says she will work on the plan over the summer recess. The Conservatives claimed the move was a victory for their values.
The health minister first suggested a wide scale reorganisation of the Welsh NHS structure last October when she said some patients were getting "lost in the gaps" because there were too many local health boards.
The assembly government said at the time it was committed to simplifying bureaucracy and the One Wales agreement commits it to getting rid of the NHS internal market by 2011.
In April a 12-week consultation on proposals to change the structure of the NHS began.
Now Ms Hart has outlined plans to streamline the work currently shared by Wales' 20 or so health trusts and the local health boards into seven health organisations.
She said the Welsh Ambulance Service and the Velindre NHS Trust would remain as additional organisations within the proposed structure.
The minister said she will also give thought over the summer recess to the idea of an All Wales National Health Board, as well as a possible role for 22 community health councils.
Edwina Hart is to give her final proposals in the autumn
Ms Hart told assembly members that the consultation on reorganisation had been a tremendous success, with a "huge and positive response".
She said: "Those views will be of the greatest assistance in informing my final proposals on which I shall consult in the autumn."
In response, the Welsh Conservatives shadow Health Minister Jonathan Morgan said the proposals were a vindication of the argument that the last health reorganisation introduced by Ms Hart's predecessor, Jane Hutt had been a complete failure.
'Stability and direction'
Mr Morgan added: "Today's announcement vindicates the position Welsh Conservatives tool back in 2003 - that the creation of 22 LHBs was unnecessary, bureaucratic and expensive."
"It is vital now that the NHS has a period of stability and direction, not interference and change."
Welsh Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jenny Randerson said: "It has become very clear over the last couple of years that the system was unsustainable and resources and skills were too stretched across 22 separate bodies.
"I very much hope that the minister's proposals that she will draw up, will find a way of ensuring that there is a local voice in the health service and the facilitation of collaboration between health and social care as they shared common boundaries."
Plaid Cymru health spokesperson Helen Mary Jones welcomed the proposed changes to the NHS structure.
She said the move would mean less money is spent on bureaucracy and more is spent on patient care.