About VETQAS and Proficiency Testing

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Who we are

Contacting VETQAS

About PT schemes

About VETQAS PT schemes

Who we are

Q: What is VETQAS?

A: VETQAS is APHA’s independent, accredited, proficiency testing (PT) unit based in Leicestershire. It is the international market leader in proficiency testing (PT) for veterinary laboratories with over 30 years experience. Recognised by national accreditation bodies for your ISO 17025 accreditation, our PT schemes provide you with the evidence you need to prove that your tests meet third party quality standards.

Paula Johnson is Head of Quality Assurance Unit / Scheme Co-ordinator
Anne Bollard is Deputy Head of Quality Assurance Unit / Deputy Scheme Co-ordinator

Q: What is APHA?

A: Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is an executive agency working on behalf of the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), Scottish Government and Welsh Government. See GOV.UK: http://www.gov.uk/apha

Q: What is APHA Scientific?

A: To enhance its scientific activity, APHA develops commercial products and services, and makes them available to scientists around the world. These services have been brought together as APHA Scientific. APHA Scientific brings scientific expertise, high quality service, innovative methods and, in many cases, unique products and services to the market. These include Proficiency Testing.

Q: What is APHA Science Services?

A: This is the single sign-on website for the Animal and Plant Health Agency. From here you can gain access to APHA business applications available over the internet.

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Contacting VETQAS

Q: Who should be my main point of contact for VETQAS PT schemes?

A: Please use our general mailbox address, which is VETQAS@apha.gov.uk. This mailbox is monitored throughout normal office hours by our Admin team and emails will be forwarded to the most appropriate member of staff. Telephone number is +44 (0) 3000 600003. When contacting us please quote your QAL contract number or your Lab ID number so that we can identify you.

Q: What are the VETQAS hours of business?

A: Members of staff are available Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 17:00 hrs (UK time). We are closed on Saturday and Sunday and on UK Bank Holidays. An answering machine is available for messages outside of working hours and when staff are temporarily unavailable.

Q: How can I register to take part in a scheme?

A: Email us at VETQAS@apha.gov.uk with details of the scheme you want to join (using the PT number from our price-list) and we will send you a quote of the costs involved. When you have confirmed that you want to join the scheme we will send you an Acknowledgement of Order (contract) for you to sign and return.

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About PT schemes

Q: What is the difference between EQA schemes and PT schemes?

A: Proficiency Testing and External Quality Assessment are different names for the same thing. PT/EQA acts as a check on the laboratory quality system by the testing of specimens of undisclosed content.

Q: What is the difference between IQC AND PT?

A: Internal Quality Control relates to controls used routinely in a laboratory’s processes to verify that a particular test is performed correctly. PT relates to ongoing monitoring of a laboratory’s performance using a test method over time using samples that are more closely related to real test samples.

Q: How can PT schemes be used to monitor the performance of a lab?

A: PT results should be monitored over a period of time to detect bias or repeated unsatisfactory results, which may indicate poor performance. A single poor result is not indicative of overall lab performance but neither is a single good result.

Q: Are the PT samples “real samples” to mimic routine lab specimens?

A: Depending on the scheme, samples can be liquid or freeze dried serum, freeze dried cultures or Lenticules (small discs that contain bacteria), whole blood, freeze dried tissue/milk samples, faeces or glass slides. For some schemes, e.g. Microbiology, they may not be in the usual matrix but will contain the expected mix of organisms usually found in that sample type. Every PT sample must be stable and homogeneous throughout the testing period. The best way to achieve this with some Microbiology schemes is to use simulated specimens.

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About VETQAS PT schemes

Q: How will VETQAS PT schemes help my laboratory?

A: The main benefit is to give you confidence that your lab is performing its routine testing correctly. You will get an unbiased external assessment of your performance which can be used to show competency to your clients / accreditation assessors.

Q: Are the VETQAS schemes accredited?

A: The majority of schemes on the price list are accredited by United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to ISO/IEC 17043 – Conformity assessment Guidelines for Proficiency testing providers. All schemes on the website price list are annotated showing current status.

Q: How do I find out more about VETQAS schemes accreditation?

A: Our price list indicates schemes that are accredited. You can access further
information by clicking on these links:

Q: What is the range of PT schemes offered by VETQAS?

A: VETQAS currently offer veterinary schemes covering Antibody detection, Haematology, Virology, TSE, Parasitology, Feed Tests, Microbiology and Histopathology. New schemes are always under evaluation.

Q: How do I choose the right scheme?

A: Information sheets for each PT scheme can be found on the website to help you decide whether a scheme is suitable for your needs. Please follow the links on the ‘VETQAS Proficiency Testing Schemes’ page and click on ‘View Details’ next to the PT number on the price-list.

Q: What if the scheme I need is not shown on the current price list?

A: Please contact us as we may have a scheme that is not currently listed due to shortage of material, or it may be under development.

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Q: Is the cost for one distribution or many?

A: The cost on the price list is for all the distribution months listed and for one
contract year (1st April to 31st March).

Q: How do you decide what the right answer is?

A: Samples are tested prior to issue to obtain an assigned value (intended results). For some schemes statistics are used on the participant’s results to determine the assigned value.

Q: How are the results assessed?

A: Each scheme is assessed by an expert and relevant comments are added to provide feedback to participants. For some schemes statistics are used including mean values, z scores, and for some serology schemes the results are compared to an intended range or value.

Q: Are my PT results confidential?

A: Yes, each participant is allocated a confidential Lab ID number and results are tabulated using these. Laboratory names are not used on reports.

Q: What is your data handling and data protection policy?

A: Our data policies can be found in section 5 of our standard ‘Terms & Conditions’.

Q: What is PT LIMS?

A: Proficiency Testing Laboratory Information Management System. This is a system designed specifically for VETQAS. It is used to administer the contract and scheme details for all of our Proficiency Testing customers. Customers log onto our PT LIMS via the internet and enter the results of their testing. PT LIMS then processes the results and produces the tabulated reports. PT LIMS then sends an e-mail to participants to inform them that tabulated results are available. Participants can then view their results by logging on to PT LIMS.

Q: If I have a problem can I get additional technical advice?

A: APHA Test and Disease experts are available to offer additional help when required.

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Page last modified: 26 June, 2020