The Scottish government has outlined its plans for independent scrutiny of reconfiguration and service changes in NHS Scotland.

The proposal follows the closures of local accident and emergency departments, opposed by the governing Scottish National Party in its election campaign earlier this year.

Launching a three-month consultation on independent scrutiny options, health and well-being secretary Nicola Sturgeon said any NHS board proposals for service reconfiguration had to persuade her that their case was robust, that all alternatives had been considered and that due weight had been given to patient need and public opinion.

Ms Sturgeon wants an independent panel, or local authority committee, reporting to ministers to 'look at each case on its merits [but] operate a general presumption against centralisation of services'.

A British Medical Association Scotland spokeswoman said it welcomed improved transparency and public involvement in the redesign process.