PATIENTS in Worcestershire should be independently represented, according to the British Medical Association.

The county's community health councils are due to be abolished as part of the NHS Plan announced by the Government.

Fresh arrangements for patient involvement in decision-making are being considered, but the BMA has called for the health watchdogs to be retained.

"Many doctors work very closely with the local patient representative groups and have benefited from their collaboration," said BMQA chairman, Dr Ian Bogle.

"Removing these powers would seriously threaten patient advocacy. The new arrangements must be independent of NHS structures and carry with them the statutory powers to preserve advocacy, scrutiny and inspection.

"It is vital that they strengthen, not weaken, the roles held locally."

Glen Green, chairman of Worcester and District CHC, recently met Worcestershire MPs, Peter Luff and Sir Michael Spicer, to raise her concerns about the future of CHCs.