So the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has a new chief executive. DoH civil servant David Behan grasped the poisoned chalice last Friday stating, as he accepted the position, that the CQC should be an outfit that ‘takes action where services are poor and unsafe’. As David Brindle says in today’s Guardian, ‘no more buck passing of the kind we saw at Winterbourne View, when a whistle-blower’s warnings of abusive treatment of learning disabled people failed to trigger intervention’. It is probably a good thing that Behan has since 2006 been director of social care at the Department and before that was Chief Inspector of Social Care Inspection, one of the bodies melted down to form the CQC in 2009. Hopefully good news for people in care homes.
So wither the HFEA? Now sitting cuckoo-like in the same city tower as the CQC it must be increasingly unlikely that many of it’s functions are appropriate to be taken over by this body or actually by anyone else. There may be some grounds for bringing together the inspection of scientific facilities, particularly if a clinic is situated in a hospital that is inspected by the CQC anyway. But the more complex workings of the HFEA, particularly those to do with maintenance of the register and responding to enquiries about it, would seem to be way beyond it’s remit or capabilities. Despite continued mutterings by DoH staff that there will be a consultation ‘soon’ about the transfer of HFEA functions, nothing has yet emerged and the end of this parliamentary session looms imminently.
In the meantime the HFEA has appointed the academic lawyer Professor Sheila McLean to head its new Strategy Group on Donation and those of us who have applied to be members will learn if we have places within the next ten days. The deadline to apply for membership was apparently extended to accommodate the large number of applicants. My own position is one of massively mixed feelings about this group and its chair. Watch this space.