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Participant Manual

Distributions and EQA material

Molecular Genetics EQAs:

For the full interpretative schemes, currently two distributions of samples are made in a given year, the first in June and the second in late July. The single deadline for report submission is late September giving the participants 12 and 6 weeks respectively to complete the work.

Molecular Genetics Blood Spot EQAs:

These schemes are distributed four times during the 12 month period. Four weeks are given for testing.

Molecular Rapid Aneuploidy EQA:

This EQA is provided once a year with the samples being distributed usually in September. Four weeks are given for testing.

Molecular Pathology EQAs:

The Lung cancer, Colorectal cancer and Melanoma EQAs are distributed two times during the 12 month period. Six weeks are given for testing. The GIST and MSI EQAs are distributed once during the year and again six weeks are given for testing.

Preimplantation Genetics Diagnosis EQA:

This EQA is provided once a year with the Stage 1 DNA samples being distributed usually at the beginning of the year, and stage 2 cells being sent in February. Four to six weeks are given for testing for each stage.

Other schemes

For all other EQAs or specific information please contact the Scheme.


General information

Participants are informed in advance of the date of dispatch of samples and should be ready to take receipt of the samples. Once samples are sent then all participating laboratories are emailed informing them of the distribution. If samples do not arrive then it is the participants responsibility to inform the Scheme on In which case, all possible measures will be taken to distribute repeat aliquots and documentation as soon as possible.

For the practical exercises, in any given round of EQA sufficient material is usually supplied to perform all necessary analyses plus a modest number of repeat analyses. DNA samples provided can be stored temporarily +4°C. However long-term storage at -40°C is recommended. Blood spot cards and formalin fixed paraffin embedded tumour sections (curled and slide mounted) can be stored at ambient temperature. Single cells distributed for the preimplantation genetic diagnosis schemes should be treated exactly as detailed in the accompanying distribution paperwork.

The material used for the practical schemes resembles as closely as possible the relevant clinical material routinely tested in the participating laboratories, such as DNA, cells, blood spots or tumour sections. The materials distributed are provided as specimens for the sole purpose of enabling external quality assessment at the recipient's laboratory during the current distribution and must not be tested for any other disease than that which is requested by the EQA scheme. They do not constitute in vitro medical diagnostic devices (IVDs), and no claim is made that they may be suitable for any other purpose or at any other point in time.

If any participant believes that the EQA samples have been affected by conditions during transportation, have issues with sample labelling or any other factor which may have an impact on the ability to obtain a result then the laboratory MUST contact the Scheme as soon as possible on

If the Scheme detects any incidence of EQA result sharing prior to EQA report submission or any other form of collusion then the Scheme Director shall investigate and if deemed to have occurred then the laboratory(s) will be withdrawn from the EQA assessment.

Various aspects of the EQA scheme activities are subcontracted e.g. supply of EQA material and validation testing. All subcontractors are regularly reviewed to ensure the standard of the Scheme is not comprised. UK NEQAS for Molecular Genetics is responsible for this work.