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Who Are We?

 

The United Kingdom based National External Quality Assessment Service for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (UK NEQAS for H&I) is part of the NEQAS Consortium and has provided a comprehensive range of External Quality Assessment (EQA) Schemes for laboratories operating clinical Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (H&I) services since 1975.

Our Mission Statement:

 

“Improving H&I testing for the benefit of patients through quality assessment and education”

 

Our Vision Statement:

 

“To be the EQA provider of choice for laboratories providing H&I diagnostic services”

 

The majority of our services are based on the external quality assessment (EQA) of H&I services around the world. EQA monitors laboratory performance using ‘blind’ samples analysed as if they were patient samples to ensure testing is comparable, safe and clinically useful to a patient no matter where the testing is performed. EQA services can have a myriad of uses to laboratories, including:

  • Allow labs to monitor, evaluate and improve all aspects of service provision.
  • Allows participants to compare their assay performance across time, across method, across networks
  • Give insight into individual lab performance in a national setting helping to drive improvements.
  • May reveal unsuspected areas of weakness and can also act as a check on the efficacy of internal quality control procedures.
  • Can be used as a tool for competency assessment of lab staff.
  • Independent
  • Highlights best practice, common errors or poor practice, up-to-date guidance and clinically relevant performance issues.
  • EQA participation demonstrates that your laboratory is committed to providing the highest quality of analysis for all patients.

UK NEQAS and its EQA services are an important part of clinical governance and quality assurance structures and reports to a number of oversight bodies in the UK such as RCPath, MHRA and UKAS to support better governance and patient safety.

 

“UK NEQAS for H&I has over 45 years of experience at supporting transplant laboratories through the provision of EQA schemes. We are accredited to ISO 17043:2010. Our ethos is to assure clinical laboratory test results are accurate, reliable and comparable wherever they are produced to facilitate optimal patient care. We offer a comprehensive range of EQA schemes covering all aspects of H&I services including more specialist services such as platelet immunology, disease association and pharmacogenomics.”

 

H&I laboratory support is required for:

  • Solid organ transplantation
  • Haematopoietic stem cell transplant programmes
  • HLA typing as an aid to disease diagnosis, e.g. HLA-B27 and the spondyloarthropathies
  • Unrelated haematopoietic stem cell donor panels
  • The provision of HLA/HPA matched blood products

The primary laboratory investigations are:

  • determination of HLA/HPA type
  • the detection and specification of antibodies directed towards HLA or HPA specificities
  • crossmatching of patients’ sera against donors’ lymphocytes

Schemes are available to all clinical laboratories in the UK and overseas and appropriate biotechnology companies.

Consideration is also given to Schemes that cover other aspects of clinical work performed in an H&I laboratory and not currently covered by other EQA Schemes.

A full list of UK NEQAS for H&I’s EQA schemes are available in Schemes and Rationale and full details of each scheme along with other useful information is provided in the Participant Manual.

All aspects of the Scheme are under continuous review in collaboration with the UK NEQAS for H&I Steering Committee and suggestions for enhancements to the existing schemes or development of new schemes are always welcome.

UK NEQAS for H&I is a member of the UK NEQAS Charity and operates in accordance with the UK NEQAS code of practice (available from the UK NEQAS website www.ukneqas.org.uk).

UK NEQAS for H&I is operated by Velindre University NHS Trust, a United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited proficiency testing provider, No 8351. Further details on our accreditation can be found here.

Explore our schemes

Our commitment to UK NEQAS for H&I Participants

UK NEQAS for H&I will:

  • Respect your confidentiality
  • Despatch samples and report according to the published timetable
  • Not give participant information to anyone (except as detailed in this Participant Manual)
  • Provide you with all the information for you to fully participate in our schemes
  • Provide schemes ‘at cost’ and will not make a profit
  • Rectify assessment errors in a timely fashion
  • Resolve disputes in an impartial and professional manner
  • Willingly provide advice on all scheme issues
  • Endeavour to comply with EFI EPT Standards for Providers

 

External Stakeholders

UK for NEQAS for H&I work with a number of external stakeholders.  This includes our participants who we engage with through a number of routes including emails, surveys and notably our Annual Participant Meeting.  We are also advised by Steering Committee of H&I experts who meet a minimum of three times per year.

We are also supported by the Royal College of Pathologist’s (RCPath) Quality Assurance in Pathology (QAPC) committee and the National Quality Assurance Advisory Panel for Immunology (NQAAP), the European Federation of Immunogenetics (EFI) External Proficiency Testing Committee, the MHRA and UKAS.  We also feed directly in to the UK NEQAS Executive Committee as well as a number of NEQAS Working Groups.

The UK NEQAS for H&I are very active in the H&I community and directly involved with many professional bodies:

Director – Chief Scientific Officer to NHSBT Organ Donation and Transplant, Chair of RCPath Examiners, UKAS and EFI inspector

Deputy Director – NEQAS Executive Committee, EFI EPT Committee, RCPath Workstream to develop a new UK EQA Governance framework, RCPath Wales Regional Council, RCPath H&I Specialist Advisory Committee, and EQA Stakeholders Forum

Operations Manager – RCPath Workstream to develop a new UK EQA Governance framework, NEQAS Marketing and Promotions Working Group, NEQAS Quality Management Working Group, NEQAS Molecular Forum, Secretary of the BSHI Research Executive, BSHI Training and Development Executive, BSHI Education Board.

Healthcare Practitioner – NEQAS Logistics Working Group.

QA Technical Officer – NEQAS Logistics Working Group, NEQAS Competitor Analysis Core Group.

 

“We work closely with manufacturers and regulatory agencies such as the MHRA to alert them to issues and assist in early resolution of problems with assays, analysers and kits.”

 

UK NEQAS for H&I regularly publish results and interesting findings at conferences and in scientific journals. We also present at the ‘Meet the Experts’ session at the annual EFI conference. In line with our educational ethos we provide our participants with access to experienced scientific staff for advice and assistance should they require it.  At our annual participant meeting we also take time to focus on best practice and the latest developments within H&I.  In terms of contributing to the wider scientific community we directly develop EQA standards (with EFI EPT Committee) as well as publish current professional guidance e.g. Coeliac Disease Guidelines.  We also collaborate on research and innovation projects e.g. working with NIBSC and the British Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (H&I) Research Executive.

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