The Catholic Bishops have called on the Government to spell out the benefits to public health that its plans for health service reform are expected to deliver.

They have also highlighted industrial relations road-blocks to the "deinstitutionalisation" of services for people with disabilities.

The comments were made in the course of a wide-ranging assessment of the Programme for Government's plans for the health services.

"Caring for Health in Ireland" was written by the bishops' Council for Justice and Peace.

It welcomed proposals to reform the two-tier system of healthcare through the introduction of a Universal Health Insurance scheme.

It said the many Catholic service providers also welcome the proposal along with the Government's pledge to reduce the excessive use of hospitals by developing stronger primary care and post-hospital services.

But it also highlighted what it called the Government's lack of focus on clearly defined public health outcomes.

It said the programme says little about tackling the social factors that cause the less well-off to be more likely to experience ill health and die younger than those with higher incomes.

The bishops' council said services are not "deinstitutionalising" people with disabilities quickly enough and it blamed national labour legislation and industrial relations practices for impeding change.

It said this often leads to lower-skill functions being carried out by more costly higher-skilled staff.