Structure and function of the Quality Assurance Reference Centre

Quality Assurance (QA) is a fundamental part of all Cancer Screening Programmes. 

It aims to maintain minimum standards and to continuously improve performance, ensuring the benefits of screening outweigh any harms. The Quality Assurance Reference Centre (QARC) within the Public Health Agency is responsible for supporting the commissioning and QA of the breast, cervical and bowel cancer screening programmes. Each screening programme is led by a Consultant in Public Health Medicine/QA Director. Support staff within the QARC team include a programme manager, QA coordinator, data support officers and administrative staff.  

Organisational Chart for QARC

Aims of the Northern Ireland Quality Assurance Reference Centre

  1. To support both the commissioners and providers in the specification, commissioning and delivery of the bowel, breast and cervical screening programmes
  2. To act as a resource to provide specialist advice and expertise on the programmes
  3. To coordinate QA activites between and within professions delivering the 3 programmes
  4. To monitor and review the performance and effectiveness of the QA mechanisms within each programme.
  5. To devise and operate robust monitoring arrangements and check that screening services are delivered to the hightest levels of quality and safety.
  6. To monitor and report whether the screening services are delivered by appropriately trained and qualified staff, and to:
    • Provide advice about and encourage continued professional education for individuals within the programmes.
    • Facilitate close liaison between professionals working within the 3 programmes and national training centres.
  7. To devise, implement and operate quality systmens which :
    • Maintain a multidisciplinary approach to QA
    • Include collection, review, validation and dissemination of data
    • Provide or support a programme of QA visits and their follow-up actions
    • Enable problems to be identified and responded to at an early stage and ensure action is taken by the appropriate individuals/organisations
    • Support the achievement of necessary changes.
  8. To contribute to the development of national and regional policy by identifying and promoting key areas of development, which are evidence-based.
  9. To develop and implement effective communication systems, ensuring clear lines of communication through local, regional and national levels, and that relevant information is properly consulted upon and disseminated.