At the age of 86 Sir Sydney Hamburger is back at work in the NHS - as its oldest employee. Sir Sydney, who chaired the former North West regional health authority from its inception in 1974 until 1982, has agreed to become non-executive director of the board of mental health services of Salford trust for three years.

Junior health minister Lord Phillip Hunt welcomed Sir Sydney's appointment and said the government was 'keen to encourage people of all ages, young and old, to make their skills available to NHS boards'.

'Sir Sydney has already made his mark on the NHS as an outstanding regional health authority chairman. I know he can do it again as a trust non-executive director. His knowledge and know-how will be invaluable in developing mental health services for the people of Salford.'

Sir Sydney said he was looking forward to the new role: 'I have been involved in the health service for many, many years, and of all the public services in which I have been involved the NHS has been the most rewarding. I have seen many changes, most notably the development of Hope Hospital as a centre of excellence, and I look forward to the future of mental health services in Salford.'