Blood Transfusion


The Blood Transfusion Department provides an essential 24-7 service to the patients of Gateshead, Sunderland and South Tyneside. The three Blood Transfusion laboratories are individually monitored for compliance against Blood Safety & Quality Regulations, which is overseen by the competent authority Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The Blood Transfusion service is UKAS accredited to ISO15189:2012; our full scope of accreditation is published on the UKAS website under UKAS number 9133.

Each trust has a Blood Transfusion Policy which highlights best practice based on current National guidelines.

The role of the Blood Transfusion laboratory includes the following:-



Blood Transfusion is a Consultant led service with scientific and technical laboratory staff always available to answer queries and provide help. The laboratory works closely with other specialties within each hospital trust to ensure a more patient focused robust service.



Day to day advice can be obtained by contacting the Laboratory.  Where clinical advice is required, the Consultant Haematologist can be contacted.


Laboratory Hours

Each laboratory is staffed to provide 24hr a day service.


Sample acceptance criteria

Blood Transfusion samples must be handwritten and must include the following:

Desirable criteria are

The request form must also have the Name and Signature of the person taking the sample.

It is extremely important for relevant Clinical Details to be included on the request. This helps us to prioritise urgent cases and prevent a delay in blood provision.

If the request is from inside the Hospital a contact bleep number is extremely useful.  When from a community midwife it should include contact information for the midwife so that they can be contacted if required.

To safeguard patients against wrong treatment, samples with any labelling discrepancies will be rejected and the requesting source will be notified. The laboratory operates a zero tolerance policy for sample amendments.

Samples must be appropriately sealed and bagged before sending to avoid spills/leaks.


High Risk/Hazardous samples MUST be double bagged.  The request form and sample(s) MUST be marked with ‘Danger of Infection’ labels.


What happens to your sample?

In order to ensure we provide a safe service, all patients must be positively identified before a sample is taken and, in hospital, must always wear an ID wristband. Once a sample has arrived, it will be prioritised, labelled and processed. The request may be for just a blood group and antibody screen but might include a “crossmatch”. This is where a patients’ sample is incubated with a small sample from a donated unit of blood to make sure it is compatible for that patient. Blood is a lifesaving product but carries risks along the way. In every blood transfusion situation, the benefits to the patient should always outweigh the risks and where possible, consent prior to transfusion obtained.



Where available, all requests should be made using the appropriate electronic ordering system:

Meditech Order Management

Sunquest ICE – GH and ST Hospital requests, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.



In most cases a single 6ml EDTA (pink top tube) is sufficient. In cases where blood is required the “2 sample rule” exists. Two samples must have been received in the laboratory at 2 different times or taken by 2 different individuals to ensure positive patient identification has occurred at 2 separate occasions.

For paediatrics, a 2ml EDTA (purple top) tube is ideal for most investigations.


Quality Assurance

The Laboratory endeavours to make quality a fundamental component of all its work, and to continually monitor its performance and improve deficiencies.

All processes are subject to internal quality control procedures, involving analysis of “QC” samples with known values to check that the analysis remains accurate and precise.

In addition, all analyses are subject to External Quality Assurance procedures involving the blind analysis of samples distributed from nationally recognised Reference Centres. These allow the accuracy and precision of this Laboratory’s results to be compared with other laboratories in the country and with reference values.

The Laboratory performance in External Quality Assurance is available on line.