UK NEQAS Brexit Update
Since 1969, UK NEQAS has provided External Quality Assessment (EQA) to laboratories within the UK and internationally. The findings from our programmes ensure clinical laboratory tests on patients are robust, accurate and precise and therefore clinically of value. Furthermore, they contribute towards the production of international and national guidelines and underpin the generation of local clinical laboratory results for use in the diagnosis and monitoring of patients throughout their treatment journeys.
A referendum in June 2016, resulted in the UK electing to leave the European Union (EU). We understand that our participants and suppliers will have questions and possibly concerns regarding the potential for change to our services. Whilst we do not yet know the outcome of our departure from the EU, we would like to reassure all of our customers, participants and suppliers that we have taken all possible preventative actions to avoid any disruption to the services we provide. When the referendum result was announced, we formed a working group with representatives from each UK NEQAS centre with a remit to identify all possible problems and develop solutions. The working group have met regularly to discuss concerns, identify and share solutions and they have worked collaboratively with our colleagues from key partner organisations within the logistics and distribution sector, customs and excise, distributors etc. The group has worked tirelessly in to produce solutions for both ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ scenarios.
To ensure our commitment to continued EQA provision we have:
- Updated our international shipping systems and worked with our overseas logistics suppliers to ensure that EQA shipments will be flown from local airports into Europe for onward delivery. By adopting this strategy, the International Air Transport Association has stated that air traffic will not be disrupted.
- Working closely with our shipping companies, we now use paperless trades systems to facilitate smoother customs clearance of EQA materials.
- Identified possible disruption to our purchasing systems and stockpiled critical materials to ensure sufficient stock levels for our continued operations.
We will continue to work with key stakeholder organisations such as World Health Organisation, National Institute of health, ECDC, ESCMID, European Society for Clinical Cell Analysis and others enabling the continued sharing of information for the benefit of all.
We believe the services we provide are to improve patient care. Irrespective of the final agreement, we believe we have an obligation, not just to our customers, suppliers and participants, but to our patients to ensure an uninterrupted EQA service.
We would like to thank you for your continued support, particularly at this politically sensitive time, and trust that we have been able to reassure you that the mechanisms we have implemented will result in our continued provision of excellent EQA services.