Monitor is expected to lose its current regulatory role in the government's review of healthcare regulation, although a decision on its future will not be taken until the autumn.

Monitor is expected to lose its current regulatory role in the government's review of healthcare regulation, although a decision on its future will not be taken until the autumn.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt is understood to have indicated that the role of the foundation trust regulator will shift from regulator to 'chief shareholder' of its community.

Ms Hewitt had been expected to announce new roles for the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection and Monitor this week, when the DoH published its response to the regulation review. Instead the DoH this week said its report would be delayed until the autumn.

HSJunderstands that the DoH is still committed to the merger of Healthcare Commission and CSCI by 2008, but has yet to decide on clear roles for Monitor and the Healthcare Commission in regulating the market.

Monitor has argued the case for it to become the sole economic regulator for the NHS, but the Healthcare Commission's submission to the review said it should regulate both finance and quality.

In a speech at a Cabinet Office conference on public services last month, Ms Hewitt gave a strong indication that Monitor will lose its regulating role. In the conference, which was closed to the media, HSJunderstands that she said she visualised Monitor fulfilling the function 'not so much of a regulator in my view but as the function that would be fulfilled in a private company of chief shareholder'. Monitor was not available for comment.

The DoH has also delayed a report on provider development until later in the year. It is expected to address ways to bring new entrants into current markets and detail the circumstances in which the introduction of new providers would be triggered where services are failing.