HEALTH service reforms have been botched, according to a damning report by an influential parliamentary committee.

Julia Drown, Labour MP for South Swindon, helped draw up the paper which calls on the Government to back down on its timetable for forcing through change in the NHS.

She said: "Our report shows that the changes to replace the Community Health Councils have been rushed through.

"The new systems which have been brought in to replace the CHC will be an improvement for patients.

"But we want to make sure that the services replacing the CHC are properly set up."

Dr Doug Naysmith, an MP who served on the Health Committee with Ms Drown, said the system was in a mess after the changes to local health watchdogs were introduced. He said: "I think it is fair to describe the situation as a dog's breakfast and locally things are not running as they should."

The report described by Dr Naysmith as quite devastating examined the abolition of CHCs under the Government's NHS modernisation plan.

Established in the 1970s, CHCs were designed to monitor the local operation of the NHS, inspect sites, give advice to health authorities and represent the interests of the public.

CHCs have played a key role in exposing a number of major NHS failures over the years, including the actions of disgraced gynaecologist Rodney Ledward.

But with the launch of the NHS Plan in 2000 it was announced CHCs were to be replaced by a plethora of bodies including Patient Advice and Liaison Service, Patient and Public Involvement Forums, Overview and Scrutiny Committees and an Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

Under the plans, CHCs were due to be dumped a month ago. However problems setting up the replacements meant the CHCs were allowed to run for another four months.

The report by the House of Commons Health Committee says this has left the system in confusion.

Dr Naysmith, a Labour backbencher, said: "All these things were supposed to be up and running before the CHCs were abolished but this has not happened."