Vicki Barwick
Eurachem Chair; Head of Commercial Training, National Measurement Laboratory, United Kingdom

After studying chemistry at the University of Nottingham, Vicki joined LGC in 1990 as an analytical chemist. She then worked on projects funded by the UK government’s Valid Analytical Measurement (VAM) programme, focusing on the development of approaches to evaluating measurement uncertainty in chemical analysis. This work led to the development of training courses on uncertainty evaluation and wider quality assurance issues. Vicki is currently the Head of Commercial Training at LGC and has over 20 years’ experience in the development and delivery of training courses in the area of analytical quality assurance. She has produced a wide range of training materials and is co-author of the books ‘Quality assurance in analytical chemistry’ and ‘Practical statistics for the analytical scientist’. She is the Chair of Eurachem network and a member of the Eurachem Working Groups on Education and Training, and Method Validation.

LECTURE: Ensuring the quality of analytical measurements – current support and future challenges

Established in 1989, the aim of Eurachem is to provide a focus for analytical chemistry and quality-related issues in Europe. The main objectives are establishing a system for the international traceability of chemical measurement results and the promotion of good quality practices. Eurachem currently has 36 members and is effectively a ‘network of networks’. A requirement of membership is the establishment of a national Eurachem network which supports the dissemination of Eurachem’s aims and outputs. Eurachem also has liaison arrangements with a number of European and international organisations including: Eurolab; the Technical Committee on Metrology in Chemistry (TC-MC) within Euramet; European Cooperation for Accreditation (EA); European Chemical Society-Division of Analytical Chemistry (EuChemS-DAC); European Commission-Joint Research Centre; NMKL-NordVal International; AOAC-Europe; Cooperation on International Traceability in Analytical Chemistry (CITAC); International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC); Consultative Committee for Amount of Substance: Metrology in Chemistry and Biology (CCQM); International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC); the CODEX Alimentarius Commission (via its Committee on methods of Analysis and Sampling); Joint Committee on Traceability in Laboratory Medicine (JCTLM) and the ISO Reference Materials Committee (ISO-REMCO).
Eurachem produces authoritative guidance to support laboratories in ensuring measurement quality throughout the measurement cycle. Historically the focus was mainly on the analysis part of the cycle, with guides covering metrological traceability, method validation, measurement uncertainty and proficiency testing. However, Eurachem guides also cover other aspects of the measurement cycle, including sampling and interpretation of results against limits. All guides are available free of charge from the Eurachem website and translations of a number of guides are available.*
In addition to the development and publication of guidance documents, a key Eurachem activity is the organisation of conferences and workshops on quality assurance issues. Since 2010 Eurachem has organised 20 workshops and training events, with truly international audiences.
While Eurachem is ‘badged’ as a focus for analytical chemistry in Europe, in recent years the audience for Eurachem activities has become much broader than analytical chemists making measurements in a laboratory setting. Interest in quality assurance now extends across a broad range of disciplines and measurement environments. In 2019, Eurachem marked its 30th anniversary with a workshop on the validation of targeted and non-targeted methods. Validation has always been a key area of interest for Eurachem, but the focus on non-targeted methods provided an opportunity to discuss the particular challenges in this area. One of the challenges for Eurachem in the future will be how to meet the needs of this wider audience.