Government proposals for a revamped patient and public involvement system will see a shift in emphasis from the abolition of community health councils to a 'transfer' of their responsibilities, HSJ understands.
Ministers are set to publish new proposals at the end of the month, after they were forced to drop plans to scrap CHCs from the Health and Social Care Act in the last parliamentary term.
Junior health minister Hazel Blears admitted earlier this month that the government had 'got it wrong' when it moved to axe CHCs.
'What we have to introduce is a strong independent mechanism that brings together the views of patients' forums and the views of citizens. There is a role for people who are not patients but citizens in their communities, ' she said.
An HSJ source said: 'The language has already changed - It is citizens and communities, not just patients. I think you'll find that will be significant.'
The new strategy would be 'about transferring responsibility', he said. 'The language and possibly the process will shift from abolition.'
He added: 'There is a balancing act to be done politically between being able to say they are implementing [NHS plan] chapter 10 and that they have listened.'
Director of the Association of Community Health Councils in England and Wales Donna Covey said the organisation hoped to see a document that would 'build on the best of CHCs'.
'It is not about the status quo.We knew radical reform would be necessary but what we want is a system that will be best for patients. The right thing is to build on what We have got rather than reinventing the wheel.'
As part of the internal reorganisation at the Department of Health, NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp has also promised that he 'will establish a project to ensure that we have systematic patient, service user and public involvement in policy development and implementation'.