Welsh health minister Edwina Hart has sent NHS managers back to the drawing board over controversial plans to reconfigure services in North Wales.

In a statement to the Welsh Assembly last week, Ms Hart outlined a series of reviews not just of reconfiguration plans but also of consultation processes and clinical governance issues.

She admitted that the consultation had been controversial and had failed to engage local populations. Where there was local agreement and sound consultation changes would go ahead, she said. But where there was no agreement, work would go on hold until the reviews reported back to her this December.

She said: 'My approach has been to identify the underlying difficulties which have caused such public disquiet, and to put in place new procedures which, I hope, will allow us to take local populations with us in shaping new and better services.'

Among the initiatives announced was a GP-led review of current plans for community services and a review led by an NHS trust chair into consultation for service changes in Prestatyn and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The Academy of Royal Colleges in Wales will lead a review of clinical governance. A fourth review will look at structural issues of changes proposed for Glan Clwyd Hospital in Rhyl.

NHS Confederation Wales policy director Kevin Sullivan said: 'We are pleased that the minister has identified that engagement is an issue we will all need to tackle if we are to deliver 21st century services.'