Baroness Hayman was speaking on the eve of the first meeting of the external reference group that will draw up a national service framework for older people, focusing on NHS services.

The group will look at seven priority areas, including acute hospital care, models of primary and community care, mental illness and stroke. It will be co-chaired by Ian Philp, a geriatrician from Sheffield, and Denise Platt, chief inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate. The final framework is due to be published by April 2000.