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Head of the National Audit Office Sir John Bourn today reported that he had qualified his audit opinion on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority accounts for the second year running. Legal restrictions had again prevented him from being able to verify the amount of licence fee income due from clinics but not invoiced by the Authority.

The Authority had established that not all licensed treatments by clinics had been reported to it for invoicing purposes and, as a consequence, an amount of income due from the clinics in respect of those treatments had remained unbilled. The Authority estimated this amount as in the region of £600,000 to £1.25 million over the period of the previous nine years but it could be more. In normal circumstances, the head of the NAO would undertake additional procedures to find out how much income was due. But Section 33 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 prevents anyone other than the Authority’s own staff from access to the detailed patient information from which the income due is calculated.

"I am concerned that the Authority could not determine how much income was properly due to it. However, I am pleased to report that it is making progress: both in quantifying the level of unbilled income and in developing new procedures which would enable it to demonstrate to me that all income due has been identified.

"I will continue to monitor progress and will consider the action taken by the Authority to resolve this issue."

Sir John

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