Published: 17/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5947 Page 10

More than 200 patient and public involvement forums will be culled to create 'uber forums', the Department of Health announced on Tuesday.

Forums representing acute, mental health and other specialist trusts will merge so that there is only one per primary care trust.

The move, which will see 572 forums slashed to around 300, has been criticised by the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health as a 'setback for the involvement of citizens in the health of the nation'.

The announcement follows a DoH consultation on future support for patient forums when CPPIH is abolished in August 2006.

A DoH spokesperson said: 'At the moment some forums might not have seven members, which is the requirement they are trying to get as a minimum. Whereas if you merge them you will have plenty of members able to make a difference.' Under the new system, forum chairs will be recruited by the NHS Appointments Commission and a resource centre will replace some of the support roles currently provided by CPPIH.