Care Quality Commission takes over from HFEA

It has been announced that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is to take over the role of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in relation to policing IVF clinics.

Workload concerns
However, the head of the CQC, Dame Jo Williams has already written to the health minister Simon Burns voicing concerns about taking on the extra workload, given the stresses it is already under.

The CQC has stated that it can absorb some of the duties and can cut costs, however it is unable to take on all the duties, without risking existing core services provided by the CQC.

The CQC is an independent regulator set up in 2009 after the abolition of three separate bodies covering health, mental health and social care.

In a statement, the health minister said: "We plan to consult on options for the transfer of functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority shortly. We welcome responses to this consultation and will use these to inform our thinking. "We are currently carrying out a review of the CQC's performance and capability. We are committed to developing it as the quality regulator and strengthening its role in assuring the safety and quality of health and social care services. The department has a constant dialogue with CQC on both its existing role and proposed changes to that role as well as the timing of those changes and will continue to work closely with CQC."

HFEA end
The HFEA is due to be abolished at the end of the current parliament.

CQC performance
The performance of the CQC has already been questioned by the National Audit Office. The NAO criticised the CQC for only carrying out half of its planned inspections over a 6-month period in 2010.

Given the complex work that the HFEA carries out it remains to be seen whether the CQC can take over the role. Though the government will appreciate all the cost savings it can make.