Importance of UK NEQAS External Quality Assurance (EQA)
UK NEQAS for Microbiology is an independent non-profit organisation with nearly 50 years’ experience in the provision of external quality assessment (EQA) to clinical laboratories. EQA is an educational tool that enables participants to examine, monitor and improve their own laboratory performance in order to provide optimal patients’ care. The primary role of EQA is to assist laboratories in an assessment of their performance which is based on benchmarking against other laboratories and methodologies. The secondary benefits to this assessment are identification of kit or batch problems. However, the most important aspect of EQA remains with the learning and educational benefits that arise from the exercise.
Our schemes offer a high-quality service to participants and work to objective and measurable quality standards. UK NEQAS for Microbiology, operated by Public Health England, is a UKAS accredited Proficiency Testing Provider No. 4715. Currently we have approximately 2310 participants subscribing to 53 schemes in over 80 countries, preparing authentic and bespoke specimens for a range of disciplines such as bacteriology, virology, mycology, molecular and parasitology. Delivering approximately 171 distributions yearly. We provide a service organised by a passionate team of professionals including microbiologists with clinical laboratory experience. Our emphasis of the service is based on education rather than on licensing.
There are many benefits for clinical laboratories subscribing to our EQA schemes. Our primary role and drive is to assist and educate laboratories globally, by promoting best practice. Commitment to patient care is always in the forefront of our minds. Participation in our EQA schemes will provide laboratory management with an insight into their performance; Acts as a check on the efficacy of internal quality control procedures; Reveals unsuspected areas of difficulty and provides method performance evaluation (scheme dependent). Our internet site allows participants to submit results electronically and view distribution reports and digital images. Individual performance reports are provided after each distribution with historical information allowing our participants to monitor current and recurring problems. Specimens are subjected to extensive characterisation and rigorous quality control prior to release. Ensuring that participants receive reliable, stable and homogeneous material.
Written by Belinda Stobbs (UKNEQAS)