The British Standards Institute (BSI) employs over 5500 staff worldwide and is the largest standards body in the world.
The Restrictive Practices Act of 1956 (expanded in 1976 and repealed during deregulation in 2000) exempted agreements to comply with British Standards from being restrictions upon trade. Unfortunately this also applied to their management standards. The organisation has been making large corporate acquisitions internationally to expand its business. You can read its short history here.
BS 5750 was sold to the Thatcher government and to industry as the way to make Britain competitive against European companies in a single market. Capturing Chinese manufacturing in its web of accreditation has become a vital part of the cartel’s growth strategy.
Now British manufacturing declines and inspections grow…as if to replace it. Hmm.
BS 5750 became BS EN ISO 9000 in 1994. Let’s assume that Derek Spickernell who had been at the top of both organisations used his gifts of leadership and persuasion because he believed that military-style inspection was the best hope for Britain’s declining industries. But a good historian would wish to verify if this is the case from primary documents and interviews.
The EU loves an elegant excuse for coercion and also believes that standards open markets for trade. In fact, these management standards just change the gatekeepers from companies and customers to cartel members. They shift income from business and public service to regulators and inspectors. They are barriers to trade against those who are outside the legal or ideological reach of the cartel. Both the EU and UKAS are happy to promote “free trade” as long as it is between parties that submit to their regulations.
The EU’s reasoning is that common standards mean reliably interchangeable results between laboratories. Analysis of EQA results could test this assertion…but do they dare? ISO 17025 and ISO 15189 are increasingly forced on public health and medical laboratories by EU legislation and other forms of coercion. The Food Standards Agency has been using UKAS as the tool to enforce the use of ISO methods on Official Control Laboratories to ensure compliance with EU legislation that specifies these. Paranoia about not complying is another condition that is becoming more widespread.
The EU’s vision for quality (largely accreditation and inspection) in public health can be read here. Don’t be deceived by the picture of the big round table on the front cover. The participants list at the end shows that decisions were made here by just seven attendees. (It’s hard to work up enthusiasm for this sort of thing if you have anything else to do.) Half of them were from the accreditation industry rather than the laboratories that take must responsibility for their results. UKAS cannot afford to take the responsibility of endorsing any specific results because deficiencies that arise would devalue their brand by exposing its worthlessness. There is no sign of professional dissent. Here is the cartel’s protection arrangement with the EU:
This is much more genteel than the average protection racket.
It is an example of how laboratory professionals are led by accreditation bureaucrats justifying the expansion of their own parasitic and slightly bewildering work.
Serving the fodder for inspection to UKAS and CPA will take precedence over a true quality service to patients and clients.