Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet has approved prison reforms for Northern Ireland and will announce them within days, the government said yesterday.

Two days after Irish nationalist prisoners gave up their hunger campaign at Maze prison, the Northern Ireland Office, which administers this province, said an announcement of changes in the prison regimen could come by today.

Attempting to allay Protestants' fears of concessions to the almost exclusively Roman Catholic Irish Republican Army, the government has said any reforms will apply to all inmates.

In Londonderry, the province's second largest city, a former member of the Protestant Ulster Defense Regiment was shot to death while getting into his car near a hospital, police reported. No other details were immediately available. Police said they suspected the outlawed IRA.

It was the first reported violence in the province since the collapse Saturday of the seven-month hunger campaign for reforms amounting to political status. Ten men starved themselves to death and 64 people were killed in the province's sectarian battle after the protest began March 1.

The six men who gave up their fasts Saturday were no longer in danger, the government said.

Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary James Prior, who arrived here Sunday, was completing plans for prison changes with his deputy in charge of prisons, Lord Gowrie.

The government said Gowrie would visit Maze Prison outside Belfast when the draft was completed and spell out the prison regimen to inmates, including 420 protesting Irish nationalist prisoners who refuse to follow prison regulations.