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New breed of fertility watchdog on way

26 July 2010
Appeared in BioNews 568

The UK's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), could be split up as the Government's 'bonfire of the quangos' continues.

The HFEA will continue in its current form in the short-term, according to a Government review of health Arm's Length Bodies (ALBs) published today. But legislation will be introduced in this Parliament to transfer its responsibilities to a new research regulator, the Care Quality Commission and the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

The regulator of NHS and private healthcare providers, the Care Quality Commission, may become responsible for licensing fertility clinics. Issuing ethical decisions and guidance, meanwhile, could revert to the Department of Health.

The HFEA is one of several ALBs to be targeted in today's cull with the Government's aim to slash numbers by half. Other bodies to be affected include the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley expects the cuts to save more than £180 million by 2014/15, the Press Association reports. He said: 'Over the years the sector has grown to the point where overlap between organisations and duplication of effort have produced a needless bureaucratic web'.

'By making sure that the right functions are being carried out at the appropriate level, we will free up significant savings to support frontline NHS services'.

The Chair of the HFEA, Lisa Jardine said: 'Our task now is to deliver the organisational change that the Government has decided on and to ensure the continuity of the very high standard of regulation that the sector deserves and expects'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
HFEA and Health Protection Agency quangos face abolition or mergers
The Times |  26 July 2010
HFEA responds to Arm's Length Bodies review
HFEA |  26 July 2010
Liberating the NHS: Report of the arms-length bodies review
Department of Health |  26 July 2010
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