Covid-19 All Centre Update for w/c 6th 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 6th April 2020:


UK NEQAS CentreUpdate for w/c 6th April 2020
Birmingham Quality (Clinical Chemistry)Operating a full schedule this week. Please note that we were always having a non-distribution week (w/c Monday 13th April 2020) as it is Easter, and we will remind participants that this is the case. Birmingham Quality can not currently receive incoming Royal Mail letter post, but deliveries via courier are unaffected. Likewise specimen dispatch via Royal Mail is unaffected. Participants have been informed of this.
Blood CoagulationOne paper-based genetics exercise has been postponed, otherwise programmes still running as per schedule.
Blood Transfusion Laboratory PracticeAwaiting centre update.
Cardiac MarkersAwaiting centre update.
Cellular Pathology TechniqueAdapting operations and plans will evolve over the coming weeks and months, Participants will be kept informed of any alterations to EQA services. Using this opportunity to concentrate on a number of projects to continue to develop and expand the services provided.
Edinburgh Peptide HormonesOperating as normal with distributions every two weeks. This will of course be reviewed should circumstances change.
Genomics (GenQA)Awaiting centre update.
Guildford Peptide HormonesSchemes are carrying on as per normal for the time being.
HaematologyThe April distribution (FBC, ADLC, AH) is scheduled for dispatch 06.04.20. Distributions to some overseas destinations have been held where they have been informed by agents that the country is not accepting any deliveries. Participants have been informed about other changes to the schedules and Haematology will report on those weekly. Participants booked on the UK NEQAS Blood Parasitology Training Day will be contacted directly by the training organiser with advice nearer to the anticipated dates of the courses. 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 PathologyClosing date for Circulation M – postponed until July 17th 2020, allowing 8 additional weeks for participants to view and share slides. Within distribution cells, deadline for sending slides to the second centre is now 8th May 2020.
The review session for Circulation L, originally scheduled for June 2020, is cancelled until further notice.
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 HybridisationContinuing 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, so reports will not be despatched until the 4th week of April at the earliest.
A review has been completed with regards to 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. Remains their committed aim to complete all four assessment runs of the forthcoming EQA year, and ICCISH 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 & AllergyOperating as normal. Only shipments to Italy, Spain and India are suspended.
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 ScienceAwaiting centre update.
Trace ElementsSchemes are carrying on as per normal for the time being.
UK National BNS Neuropathology Interpretative EQA SchemeAwaiting centre update.
Vitamin KRunning as norma. Will continue to monitor response rates to see if extensions are necessary.