The government has backed down from plans to abolish two specialist regulators and transfer the majority of their responsibilities to the Care Quality Commission.

The Department of Health consulted last year on proposals for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates fertility clinics, and the Human Tissue Authority, which regulates organisations that store and use human tissue.

Its preferred option was to dissolve the two authorities and transfer the bulk of their functions to the CQC. This was with the exception of the HFEA’s “research-related functions”, which would have transferred to the Health Research Authority.

However, in a consultation response published at the end of last month, the department said it had decided “not to pursue a transfer of functions at this time”.

The two regulators, it said, would “remain as separate statutory bodies but with the introduction of further efficiencies”.

The document explained that 75 per cent of respondents to the consultation - including the HFEA and the HTA - had opposed the government’s preferred option.

“Respondents cited a number of reasons for not transferring functions,” it said. “Primary of which was that the HFEA and the HTA have developed considerable expertise in highly specialised fields.

“They were said to be trusted and respected by the regulated sectors and respondents believed this would be lost should a transfer of functions take place.”

It added that almost half of respondents believed the CQC was “not well placed currently to take on the functions, and HTA and HFEA functions would be subsumed by the CQC’s other responsibilities”.

The DH stated: “It was felt that the consequence of this would be a loss of public confidence, a decrease in the quality of regulation and disruption to business.”

The report said that the department would arrange an immediate review of how the two bodies carried out their regulatory functions, which would include giving “serious consideration to the merger of the HFEA and the HTA”.