A major new report into how the health service in Northern Ireland is run says there are too many hospitals for the size of the population.

The review also recommends that an international panel of experts be set up to re-design parts of the health service.

There was widespread public concern about the state of the health service in Northern Ireland last winter.

It followed a series of incidents at hospitals, including the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast - with staff comparing the conditions to a war zone.

The report was carried out by the former Chief Medical Officer of England, Sir Liam Donaldson.

It makes ten key recommendations, including the establishment of an international panel of experts, to reshape parts of the health and social care services in the North.

It says that there are too many hospitals for a population of less than two million people - which means patients are not getting the best in health care.

The report does however offer some reassurance by concluding that the health service is no more or less safe than in any other parts of the UK, or in comparable countries in the world.

Stormont Health Minister Jim Wells said that although the report showed the health service could do better, it should be of some comfort and reassurance to those in the community who rely on the health service.