Covid-19 All Centre Update for w/c 13th April 2020

To help UK NEQAS participants in the current Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, we will be providing a weekly all-centre update. We will also provide an email address for each centre should anyone wish to make direct contact with their centre. Here’s the update for week commencing 13th April 2020:


UK NEQAS CentreUpdate for w/c 13th April 2020
Birmingham Quality (Clinical Chemistry)This week (week 16) has always been one of our non-dispatch weeks [on the on-line schedule they are denoted as yellow 'X' weeks].
Birmingham Quality will be open as usual this week, but we will not be sending out any Scheme dispatches. We will still be sending out repeat specimens as usual.
The next scheduled dispatch will be w/c Monday 20th April 2020 (Week 17).
Blood CoagulationRemain unchanged from w/c 6th April 2020.
Blood Transfusion Laboratory PracticeAwaiting centre update.
Cardiac MarkersAwaiting centre update.
Cellular Pathology TechniqueAwaiting centre update.
Edinburgh Peptide HormonesAwaiting centre update.
Genomics (GenQA)GenQA are aware that the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is putting increased pressure on genomics laboratories worldwide, and that many staff are being temporarily redeployed.
GenQA will continue to support laboratories to meet their EQA requirements for the 2020-21 season.

GenQA are considering changes to the planned EQAs for 2020, to reduce the genomics laboratory workload by:

- Changing the EQA timetable to provide distributions later in the year
- Altering the format of EQAs e.g.
o focussing on providing EQAs for core tests
o providing fewer samples for laboratory testing
o minimising the testing required (e.g. single variant only)
o changing EQAs to interpretation only (e.g. no laboratory testing required)
o merging EQAs where appropriate
- Ensuring the change in format allows coverage of the breadth of technologies within genomics laboratories.
We will email participants with notification of delays/changes to the EQA schedule.

For our latest news on COVID-19 please go to:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, contact by telephone may not be possible therefore please email Thank you for your continued support.
Guildford Peptide HormonesSchemes are carrying on as per normal for the time being.
HaematologyAmended distribution schedules are available on the UK NEQAS Haematology website.
Our aim is to maintain services to support high throughput, automated testing and national screening programmes, in accordance with the advice on prioritisation of laboratory medicine testing during the Covid-19 pandemic from the UK professional bodies (RCPath, IBMS, ACB and NHS England).
The phones are not being answered as the admin staff are working from home. Participants are asked to email for admin queries or for scientific queries.
Head and Neck PathologyAwaiting centre update.
Histocompatibility & ImmunogeneticsH&I continues to operate and is working hard to release the last reports of the 2019-20 distribution year as well as the end of year reports. Many of their highly skilled staff have been redeployed to support other critical areas, including COVID-19 testing.
Immunocytochemistry & In-Situ HybridisationWe are continuing with the assessment of Run 129/58, which is now almost complete, but with a reduced number of staff working the post-assessment validation and processing procedures will take longer than normal and so your reports will not be despatched until the 4th week of April at the earliest.
We have had to review our intentions with regard to the despatch of Run 130 in light of the increased restrictions necessarily imposed to combat the outbreak. And have now decided to delay Run 130 by at least one month, with the aim of sending out materials in mid to late-June. As soon as we can confirm these dates, or if the situation changes significantly, I will write to let you know.
It remains our committed aim to complete all four assessment runs of the forthcoming EQA year, and we will be adjusting the scheduling of the remaining three runs to ensure this happens.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do get in touch. Note that the office phones are not manned at this time.
Immunology, Immunochemistry & AllergyIIA are fully operational with all scheduled distributions being despatched with flexible return deadlines for results. All phone calls and emails are being answered as under normal circumstances.
Only shipments to India and S. Africa are suspended due to import restrictions within country.
Leucocyte ImmunophenotypingNEQAS LI are currently working from home but are planning to send out our accredited programmes on schedule especially since they fit in with the testing pathways (such as cancer diagnostics) that have been highlighted by NHSE and the RCPath/IBMS/ACB as critical for patient care. There may be some minor slippage to non-accredited programmes, but these are less frequent and to fewer participants.
MicrobiologyMore than 50% of our staff are dealing with COVID 19 activities (testing, preparing lysis buffer, VTM, packing etc.) and the remaining staff are working from home. More and more staff are being drafted to help with the up-scaling of testing.
They are in the process of completing reports for the distributions that have closed and also dealing with customer queries on a daily basis. No EQAs are being despatched until further notice. This applies to the UK and worldwide.
ParasitologyIn line with other Schemes hosted by PHE, Parasitology are not despatching any EQA until further notice, neither to the UK nor worldwide.
Staff are assisting PHE in its COVID-19 response. Otherwise, where possible, our staff are working from home.
Reproductive ScienceReproductive Science is continuing as scheduled for now. Our next distribution is May and the online parts are all ready.
Trace ElementsSchemes are carrying on as per normal for the time being.
UK National BNS Neuropathology Interpretative EQA SchemeAwaiting centre update.
Vitamin KRunning as normal. Will continue to monitor response rates to see if extensions are necessary.