The Welsh Hospital Board was formed as one of the regional hospital boards established in 1948 under the National Health Service Act 1946 to administer hospital and specialist services in their respective regions. The board, known up to 1961 as the Welsh Regional Hospital Board was responsible to the Welsh Board of Health.
The 1946 Act included provision for the transfer of hospitals from their previous owners to the Minister and for the creation of a new administrative structure of regional hospital boards and, for teaching hospitals, boards of governors.
The areas of each of the regional boards were required to be associated as far as possible with a university having a medical school and fourteen such areas were designated on 18 December 1946 in the National Health Service (Determination of Regional Hospital Areas) Order 1946. The Welsh Regional Hospital Area was associated with the Welsh National School of Medicine at Cardiff and was defined in the order as the whole of Wales, the administrative county of Monmouth and the county borough of Newport. The fourteen regional hospital boards were constituted on 24 June 1947 under the provisions of the National Health Service (Constitution of Regional Hospital Boards) Order 1947 made under section 11(1) of the 1946 Act. The members of each board were appointed by the Minister. The Welsh Regional Hospital Board consisted of a chairman and 31 members.
The functions of the new boards were set out in the National Health Service (Functions of Regional Hospital Boards etc) Regulations 1948, which required the boards to administer on behalf of the Minister the hospital and specialist services in their area, subject to the exercise of those functions by hospital management committees and, in relation to teaching hospitals, by boards of governors.
Hospital management committees were appointed by regional hospital boards to the approval of the Minister for the purpose of exercising functions with respect to the management of hospitals, other than teaching hospitals, providing hospital and specialist services in the area of the board.
Fourteen hospital management committees and seven mental hospital management committees were set up by the Welsh Regional Hospital board, based on geographical groups of hospitals. In 1951 one further committee was set up to administer a single hospital, the Miners' Rehabilitation Centre, at Talygarn, near Cardiff, as a result of an agreement between the Government and the Miners' Welfare Commission under which all such centres were transferred to the National Health Service.
From 1963 to 1972 the total number of committees was progressively reduced to 14 by amalgamations. In 1970, following powers conferred on the Minister by the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 to designate teaching hospitals as University Hospitals, a new committee was constituted for the group of hospitals designated as the University Hospital of Wales (Cardiff).
Teaching hospitals were designated by the Minister after consultation with the university concerned as being those which appeared to him to provide for any university facilities for undergraduate or postgraduate clinical teaching and boards of governors were constituted to administer them.
In May 1961 the Welsh Regional Hospital Board resolved (minute 10802) to omit the word 'Regional' from its title except where required for legal purposes and in June 1964 the name was changed to Welsh Hospital Board for all purposes by section 1(3) of the National Health Service (Hospital Boards) Act 1964.
The board was abolished by the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973, with effect from April 1974. The functions of the Welsh Hospital Board were assumed by the Secretary of State for Wales who, acting through the Welsh Office, provided area health authorities set up under the Act with central policy guidance, determined national policy, co-ordinated area plans and allocated resources between areas.