An independent body to monitor the delivery of health and social services in Northern Ireland, comparable to the Commission for Health Improvement in England, has been proposed by health minister Bairbre de Brun.

The proposal for a Health and Social Services Improvement Authority is contained in a consultation document on the monitoring and regulation of services, by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Ms de Brun said the document 'proposes systems to deal with under-performance' and to ensure 'there are fewer variations in the standard of care and treatment'.

The minister is also proposing that the department should use the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and other standardsetting bodies for guidance on drugs, technologies and services.

Other proposals include a commission to regulate care homes and other agencies providing home care, and a system of clinical and social care governance.