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Council is ‘concerned’ over HFEA

12 October 2012

THE Church of England Mission and Public Affairs Council has expressed "grave concerns" about government plans to absorb two health watchdogs into the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

In a response to a Department of Health consultation, the Council said that "transferring the functions" of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) to the CQC presented "operational risks". The functions of both bodies "require both considerable executive expertise and detailed non-executive scrutiny".

The HFEA oversees the use of gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research; while the HTA regulates organisations that remove, store, and use tissue for research, and approves organ and bone-marrow donations from living people.

The church response spoke of "grave concerns with regard to the ability of the Care Quality Commission . . . to absorb the complexity and volume of the work". It questioned "whether savings . . . could really be delivered" by the changes.

The Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, National Adviser for Medical Ethics and Social Care Policy for the Council, said this week: "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 come."

Abortion debate. The Prime Minister said last Saturday that the Government had "no plans" to lower the abortion limit. Mr Cameron was speaking after the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that he favoured the lowering of the limit from 24 weeks to 12. On Wednesday of last week, the Women's Minister, Maria Miller, told The Daily Telegraph that she thought that the abortion limit should be lowered to 20 weeks.


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