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UKAS update

Ben Courtney, Head of Healthcare at UKAS, gives an update with the latest news from the service.

At the time of writing, only six months have passed since IBMS Congress and yet there has been much change at UKAS. We have continued to work with stakeholders, from collaborating with the European Federation for Immunogenetics (EFI) to ensure ISO 15189:2012 will meet EFI requirements to on-going plans with NHS England, NHS Improvement and Public Health England to ensure suitable testing can be included in scope to assure the quality of testing during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

As UKAS expands, we continue to be committed to improving our levels of customer service, as well as training opportunities for laboratory staff. Having completed the transition to ISO 15189:2012 from CPA Standards 18 months ago, UKAS is very aware of the need to improve the service that we provide to our customers. This is now formally measured and there are multiple initiatives in place aimed at continual improvement, including improved tracking of turnaround times, 12-month forward booking, further guidance on applying for extensions to scope and assessor resource analysis to limit the delay to assessment planning and booking in the future.

Healthcare accreditation is a key area of UKAS’ expansion and, aside from the accreditation of medical laboratories, UKAS also accredits physiological sciences (IQIPS), imaging services (QSI), and point-of-care testing (POCT) under ISO 15189:2012 and ISO 22870:2016 and, of course, our medical EQA Providers to ISO/IEC 17043:2010.  

I lead each of these areas now under a merged single healthcare section, the objective of which is to align accreditation processes, introduce efficiencies of assessment and ensure improved customer service, this being at an interesting time for accreditation in healthcare, with the revision of ISO 15189:2012.

ISO 15189:2012 revision

Work on revision to the medical laboratories standard ISO 15189:2012 has moved on significantly since the September IBMS Congress. International Standards are written by specific working groups within committees and these groups meet twice a year face-to-face, supported by remote video conferencing in between. Prior to the last face-to-face in Mexico in November, a working draft had been developed. However, thanks to my colleague and Head of UK Delegation, David Ricketts (representing the IBMS), we have moved on to committee draft stage. This is currently out for comment and a vote will be held prior to the next face-to-face meeting in April.  

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Image Credit | Getty Images

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