The chair of a Welsh health authority has claimed that staff have faced an 'unacceptable amount of lobbying' and 'threats' while drawing up trust reconfiguration plans.

Kate Thomas, chair of Bro Taf HA, made the claims in an opening statement before a board meeting discussed mergers in north Bro Taf last week.

She said the HA had also received letters 'vilifying' board members.

The HA has been under intense pressure from campaigners who want two integrated trusts in north Bro Taf, one of which would run services in the Rhondda Valley.

Board members rejected this option. The HA has told the Welsh Office it believes the three trusts in the area should be merged into a single trust.

A 'save our trust' petition has been set up in the Rhondda, backed by Labour MP Allan Rogers.

Keith Reynolds, chief officer of Merthyr and Cynon Valley community health council, said it feared the decision would encourage the development of the new Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant at the expense of community services and the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil.

The HA says it is committed to the local hospital and will 'ring fence' money for community services.

The Welsh Office triggered a Wales-wide trust reconfiguration programme last year.

Public consultation is planned for this summer, but intense opposition to merger plans has also already emerged in the areas covered by Dyfed Powys and Gwent HAs.