It is based at the Freeman Hospital and provides calibration, maintenance and advisory support for a range of audiological equipment and facilities for NHS audiology services and non-NHS locations mainly across the north of England.
An audiometry quality assurance (performance verification and calibration) service for a wide range of audiological devices has been provided by NMPCE for over 30 years and includes:
- Calibration of a wide range of audiometry equipment types including audiometers (screening, diagnostic and clinical), integrated fitting systems, evoked response audiometry systems, hearing aid analyzers, tympanometers (screening and diagnostic), middle ear analyzers, sound field systems, hand-held warblers, sound level meters and sound level calibrators.
- First-line minor repairs and fault assessment, including advice on replacement and recommendations for new equipment.
- On-site installation of sound field systems including setting up visual reinforcement equipment.
- Calibration training for trainee audiological scientists covering current standards and practical, hands-on sessions.
- Support and advice for users on calibration, repair and general audiometry equipment issues.
- Maintenance of an audiometry equipment inventory for each service user and location for which calibration will be provided.
AQAS measures and, if necessary, adjusts sound pressure and vibratory force levels. AQAS also measures, where appropriate, frequency accuracy, harmonic distortion, attenuator linearity and pressure and volume compliance.
AQAS ensures traceability to national and international acoustical metrological standards via specialised test equipment systems including sound analyzers, precision microphones, artificial ears, acoustic couplers, artificial mastoids, pistonphones and sound level calibrators, as well as frequency counters, digital multimeters, pressure gauges and oscilloscopes.
The specialised test equipment measurement systems used by the service are calibrated by external United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited laboratories and are traceable to national and international standards.
Audiometry equipment sound pressure and vibratory force levels are calibrated to within ±3dB, ±4dB,
+5/-3dB or ±5dB (depending on measurement type), in accordance with International Standard
IEC 60645-1:2017 / British Standard BS EN 60645-1:2017.
Each month, the number of planned visits, certification accuracy and equipment coverage for each location is checked prior to internal monthly and quarterly performance reporting.
All relevant British and International standards and guidance documents are kept up to date and logged on a document register, along with equipment manuals. Quality system processes, procedures and standard operating procedures are also maintained.
Service clinical technologists are on the Register of Clinical Technologists (RCT) and perform regular continuous professional development.
The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) document LAB 23 -Traceability for Equipment Used in Acoustical Testing recommends a maximum interval between calibrations of 1 year for audiometers.
We provide planned audiometry equipment calibration for NHS and non-NHS users. In most cases we visit the site and calibrate in-situ. In some cases we collect, return to base, calibrate and then return equipment. We also accept equipment sent by post, courier, or delivered in person to our calibration laboratory based at the Freeman Hospital.
We normally arrange calibration of items of equipment which appear on our managed inventory list. Every effort is made for equipment to be calibrated within its due month. Calibration is arranged by email, telephone or in person. Equipment owners may also contact the service directly to arrange calibration. A list of equipment due for calibration can be provided to the user.
Requests for calibration of new equipment or minor equipment repairs will be arranged around the planned workload. The service is normally very responsive with the majority of requests being handled and booked in immediately. However, when this is not possible, a return call will be made following completion of planned on-site visits. New items of equipment will normally be added to our inventory list of managed equipment.
We record contact details, equipment details and work status for all audiometry equipment brought into the laboratory in an equipment log book.
For on-site visits, users must ensure all due equipment and accessories are present and decontaminated, and an appropriate room is made available.
Reporting and documentation
Following calibration, certificates are routinely provided or, if preferable, upon user request. We complete fault report forms for minor repairs and keep copies of all certificates and reports. Equipment which cannot be adjusted and fails calibration or becomes faulty and beyond economical repair will be reported to the user. Replacement recommendation letters can be written upon request.
New requests and contact information
New requests for audiometry equipment calibration or minor repairs should be made by email or telephone to the AQAS laboratory:
Audiometry quality assurance service, Northern Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering, Freeman Hospital, High Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7DN
Telephone: 0191 213 7786
Contact names: Michelle Young or Derek Bousfield
A call log book is used to record all service requests.
Each request should include contact details for the user or coordinator, details of the equipment (i.e. make, model and quantity), its location and whether it can be sent to our laboratory or requires an on-site visit. Incomplete or inappropriate requests will be queried.
For service users not covered by a service level agreement e.g. out of region and non-NHS users, a quotation will be provided and, if applicable, a purchase order requested prior to booking confirmation.
Useful external links
British Society of Audiology
NMPCE AQAS is a subscribing member of the British Society of Audiology
British Standards Institution
NMPCE AQAS is a subscribing member of the British Standards Institution
Calibration – comparison of an instrument against a more accurate one (or against a reference signal or condition), to find and correct any errors in its measurement results.
Traceability – measurement is traceable if it can be connected to national or international standards through an unbroken chain of comparisons.
Uncertainty (of measurement) – quantified doubt about the result of a measurement.
United Kingdom Accreditation Service
NMPCE AQAS laboratory measurement systems are calibrated by external UKAS-accredited calibration laboratories