The National Association of Patient Forums has failed in a last-ditch attempt to prevent NHS organisations being allowed to host the new local involvement networks.

The NAPF claims NHS hosts would present a 'conflict of interest'.

Last week the association wrote to its supporters urging them to contact communities minister Baroness Andrews after she ruled out banning NHS organisations from hosting LINks when they replace patient and public involvement forums next April.

She had rejected attempts to modify the Local Government and Public Involvement Bill, saying it was up to local authorities to select hosts for their LINks.

She said: 'I also accept that NHS bodies would not be appropriate hosts. [But] it is not our call. We believe that local authorities are best placed to make that choice - not Parliament, the Department of Health or the Department of Communities and Local Government.'

But NAPF chair Malcolm Alexander said allowing NHS organisations to host LINks would be a conflict of interest.

He said: 'It would wholly undermine public confidence in LINks.'

Hosts are expected to provide support services to LINks such as administration as well as performance management.

Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health chief executive Steve Lowden backed the NAPF: 'It would be a great mistake to allow NHS organisations to host links. There are issues about independence and I would strongly advocate against it,' he said.

'It's bad enough that potential hosts for LINks will have contacts with local authorities.'

But at the third and final reading of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill on Monday, Baroness Andrews refused to budge, saying again it would be up to local authorities to select a host.

NHS Confederation deputy policy director Jo Webber said it would not be appropriate for trusts to host LINks.

She said: 'It is extremely unlikely that any NHS organisation will try to host a LINkƒbecause as leaders of responsible organisations, our members want to make local accountability and autonomy work in a proper, transparent way. It would therefore not be appropriate to host a LINk.'

The bill is now expected to become law.

Patient forums and the CPPIH will be abolished on 31 March 2008 with new LINks starting up on 1 April.