Promotion of the professional growth and development of specialists in the field of clinical chemistry in European countries, and harmonisation of quality assessment and accreditation procedures are listed among the main goals and activities of Federation of European Societies of Clinical Chemistry (FESCC), according to its 1999–2000 strategic plan.
The European countries that are members of the European Union are in the process of establishing the "European Register for Clinical Chemists", based on minimum standards of education, training and experience as defined by the European Communities Confederation of Clinical Chemists (EC4). Many other European countries would like to adapt their system of professional education to this model. Data on postgraduate training in EC4 FESCC members have already been gathered in 1998. However, at the present time, there is no detailed knowledge of pre- and post-graduate professional education of specialists in clinical chemistry in the non-EC4 European countries.
FESCC launched a survey in July 1998 in order to gather this information with the hope to start a database about existing systems. All FESCC members received the same questionnaire on accreditation (seven questions) and non-EC4 FESCC members received an additional questionnaire with 11 questions related to post-graduate training in clinical chemistry.
The response rate of the 35 FESCC member countries was 93% from the 15 EC4 members (14 responses/15 countries) and 80% from the 20-non-EC4 (16 responses/20 countries). The heterogeneity of the data on post-graduate training in clinical chemistry indicates that a great effort will be needed before harmonisation is reached. These results, however, will provide an interesting basis for further discussion and promotion of post-graduate training in clinical chemistry.
The data provided on accreditation show that the total number of accredited laboratories was relatively low in EC4 countries and even lower in non-EC4 members. It was not surprising to see that the number of accredited laboratories was the highest in the two countries which started accreditation the earliest (i.e. Sweden and UK, 1992). This situation, however, is changing at a fast rate in most countries and the number of the accredited sites is expected to increase rapidly in the next few years.
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