Community health councils in Wales are to be reorganised following last year’s NHS shake up, it has been announced.

The number of community health councils will be cut from 19 to eight.

From April they will have the same boundaries as the enlarged health boards introduced by the Welsh Assembly last October.

The councils are responsible for representing patients’ interests within the health service.

The new structure follows a consultation led by health minister Edwina Hart.

She said: “I have long recognised the important role of CHCs in Wales. They have a valuable contribution in the development of local health services and are now unique to Wales.

“The current CHC structure is no longer fit for purpose in the new NHS structure.

“The new-look CHC structure will strengthen and build on the good work CHCs already undertake on behalf of patients.”

Membership numbers will be reviewed after two years following concerns expressed during the consultation. Recruiting will begin shortly.

“I believe that the new structure will enhance the patients’ voice in the new NHS in Wales and help support our efforts to ensure the NHS remains open and transparent in delivering and developing services,” Ms Hart added.