Scheme organisation

To provide a seamless quality assurance service for genomics, Cytogenomics External Quality Assessment Service (CEQAS) and UK National External Quality Assessment Service (UK NEQAS) for Molecular Genetics are partnering to become Genomics Quality Assessment (GenQA) from 1st January, 2018.

Both CEQAS and UK NEQAS for Molecular Genetics have been members of the UK NEQAS Consortium and GenQA has been accepted as a full member of the UK NEQAS Consortium.

CEQAS and UK NEQAS for Molecular Genetics have identical structure and governance and both EQA providers have ISO17043 accredited EQAs. Originally, both schemes provided EQAs for the traditional laboratory genetic disciplines, respectively cytogenetics and molecular genetics. However, the blurring of traditional boundaries led to the development of joint EQAs and eventually to some joint Specialist Advisory Groups.  It is recognised that there is an increasing need for future genomic EQAs which require both cytogenetic and molecular genetics expertise.

By combining the expertise of the two Schemes, GenQA will enhance the provision of comprehensive accredited genomic testing EQAs through the delivery of asessments for the entire genomic service provided by laboratories and clinics across the world. This will include competency based programmes and educative genetic counselling EQAs for individuals. Through the organisation of Best Practice meetings and educational/training meetings, GenQA will cover the entire spectrum of testing and services provided by the genetics community worldwide. The centralisation of testing into one EQA service provider will simplify the EQA management and participation process for laboratories as well as minimise EQA participation costs.

OVERSIGHT AND PROFESSIONAL LINKS

Accountability for the Scheme is set out diagrammatically below

 

The Scheme complies with the UK NEQAS Consortium code of practice.

To meet ISO 17043, EQA providers are required to seek advice from expert professionals in appropriate areas of laboratory work, representatives of professional bodies and fellow organisers.

The Scheme has its own Advisory Board which provides scientific support to the Scheme Directors. The Advisory Board consists of the Chairs of each GenQA Specialist Advisory Group, invited experts, the Scheme Directors, Deputy Scheme Directors and the Quality Managers as well as a representative from NQAAP. The Board meets once a year unless extraordinary meetings are convened by the Scheme Director(s).

The Specialist Advisory Groups offer guidance and direction to the Scheme Directors on the overall design, operation and scientific content of the EQAs, appropriateness of the investigations surveyed, the nature of the specimens distributed as well as on the number and frequency of specimen distribution.  The SAGs consists of representatives from all relevant assessor teams (as well as a Scheme Directors, the relevant Deputy Scheme Director and a Quality Manager). The SAGs also confirm poor performance designations identified during assessment as well as appeals received from participants

On request of the Swiss Society of Medical Genetics (SSMG), GenQA has a collaboration agreement with CSCQ (Centre Suisse de Contrôle de Qualité) who distribute EQA samples for GenQA and administer the EQA payment for the laboratories. CSCQ will issue Swiss laboratories with an annual certificate, approved by SMGM, QUALAB and FOPH, for their participation in GenQA EQAs, CSCQ will pass on information about poor performance to FOPH.

GenQA reports to the chair of the National Quality Assurance Advisory Panel (NQAAP) for Genetics and to the ESHG-Eurogentest Quality Subcommittee. If applicable, the Scheme reports to the relevant national regulatory bodies in other countries. Anonymised Poor Performance data is also shared with the ESHG-Eurogentest Quality Subcommittee.

GenQA collaborates with other EQA providers such as EMQN (European Molecular Quality Network), UK NEQAS LI and UK NEQAS IHC & ISH. The Scheme also has informal links with the ACGS (Association for Clinical Genomic Science), BSGM (British Society of Genetic Medicine), ECA (European Cytogeneticists Association), ESHG (European Society of Human Genetics) and ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology). Also NHS England, Genomics England, International Quality Network for Pathology (IQN Path), English Newborn screening committee, European Society of Pathology (ESP) and Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath).

Last updated: Friday, 12 January 2018
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