11 October 2012
Proposals to absorb the services of two specialist health
watchdogs into the Care Quality Commission to save half a million
pounds per year have been criticised by the Mission and Public
Affairs (MPA) Council.
In its response to a Department of Health Consultation, the MPA
Council warns that "there are operational risks involved in
transferring the functions" from the Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) as
"theses functions require both considerable executive expertise and
detailed non-executive scrutiny".
The response is available here.
The HFEA is the UK's independent regulator overseeing the use of
gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research; the HTA
regulates organisations that remove, store and use tissue for
research, medical treatment, post-mortem examination, teaching and
display in public, and also gives approval for organ and bone
marrow donations from living people.
The MPA Council response warns that "there are grave concerns
with regard to the ability of the Care Quality Commission… to
absorb the complexity and volume of the work conducted by the HFEA
and HTA" and "the question then is whether savings… could really be
Recognising that the HFEA and HTA have already made 25 per cent
and 27 per cent efficiency savings since 2010, the MPA Council
response recommends the third of the Department of Health's three
main proposed options: "The HFEA and HTA should retain their
functions but deliver further savings."
It also recounts how a parliamentary review conducted between
2004 and 2008 considered a proposal to replace the HFEA and HTA
with a single body, but recommended abandoning the proposal as it
would lead to a significant loss of expertise, concluding that:
"There has been no significant change in the roles of either the
HFEA and HTA since then to suggest that a different conclusion
would now be reached."
The Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, National Adviser for Medical
Ethics and Social Care Policy, said: "There is little doubt that
even if the other factors did not militate against disbanding the
HFEA and the HTA, the CQC is not currently equipped to take on
their functions and this is not likely to change for some time to
A photo of the Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy is available here.