Central government should take the lead in defining a 'core' set of NHS services, with local authorities able to offer extras from within their own budgets, Liberal Democrat health spokesman Simon Hughes said this week.

Launching a review of his party's policies, Mr Hughes set out a series of ideas which he said could be a benchmark for the government's efforts to implement its green and white papers.

They include a standing conference on the future of health and social care, merged health and social services bodies, and democratically accountable regions able to take strategic decisions about health services.

Mr Hughes also called for primary care groups to be made accountable to local authorities.