The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health has been overwhelmed by enquiries from the voluntary sector about setting up NHS patient forums.
The commission has asked voluntary organisations to bid for contracts to recruit volunteers and act as support organisations to more than 500 forums.
Each forum will comprise between 15 and 20 volunteers, recruited and trained locally. In all around 10,000 members of the public are expected to join.
The commission has received more than 200 enquiries from voluntary organisations and has extended the deadline for groups to register an interest to 9 April.
Official tenders are required by the end of April and contracts will begin on 1 September.
Laurie McMurtrie, chief executive of the commission, said: "Our invitation asks them to set up local networks to ensure that each health forum will be supported by an organisation that is rooted in the local community."