Twenty two people were directly elected onto two Scottish regional NHS boards last night in an experiment to test the impact of democratisation.

Together with appointed local councillors, the new members have the chance to form elected majorities on the boards, which run health services for over half a million people, with a combined budget of over £900m this year.

Some 60 candidates stood in NHS Fife, where around 38,000 people voted, a turnout of 14 per cent.

In NHS Dumfries and Galloway, where 70 candidates stood, a higher turnout of 22 per cent- 26,522 votes – may have been due to controversy over reconfiguration.

At least five of the 10 elected members are opposed to the previous board’s clinical services strategy, which suggested the closure of five rural community hospitals. A consultation on the strategy was postponed shortly before the elections.

The elections stem from a manifesto commitment of the minority Scottish National Party government to introduce democracy to all the regional health boards. Other parties agreed not to oppose it if the government consented to pilot the idea first.

The government has put the cost at £2.5m, including the cost of an academic evaluation led by the London School of Economics.

The UK’s coalition government has proposed a similar element of direct elections to English primary care trusts.