Scotland moved closer towards elected health boards after politicians voted in favour of the proposals.

The Scottish Parliament yesterday backed the principles of the Health Boards Bill, which would introduce elections for health boards and allow members of the public to stand.

Democracy

Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "I am delighted that Parliament has approved the general principles of the bill, which I am confident will bring democracy to the heart of health board decisions.

"We will now work with others to ensure the pilot health board elections go ahead in a way that re-energises public involvement with the health service we all pay for."

Opposition

Opponents of the plans say they could lead to health boards being dominated by candidates pursuing a narrow agenda and will not improve public engagement.

Scrutiny

The bill will now move to the next stage of parliamentary scrutiny. If passed, it will lead to:

  • Elected members - including local authority representatives and those directly elected by the public - will form a majority of health board members. A chair and other members will be appointed by ministers, as at present.

  • Pilot elections will be held and independently evaluated.

  • Elections will be carried out using a proportional representation voting system, with a single ward covering the whole health board area.

  • The voting age in health board elections will be 16.