The Microbiology department is managed by the Microbiology Operational Board. This board is chaired by the joint Clinical Leads for Microbiology, Dr J Moore and Dr A Wort with representation and clinical decisions from the Consultant Microbiologists across the three stakeholder Trusts.
Dr Jonathan Moore, Consultant Microbiologist (Gateshead): firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Alice Wort, Consultant Microbiologist (Gateshead): email@example.com
Dr Richard Ellis, Clinical Microbiologist (S Tyneside / Sunderland): firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Andrew Berrington, Clinical Microbiologist (S Tyneside / Sunderland): email@example.com
Mrs Natasha Waterhouse, Departmental Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Chris Allan, Technical Manager: email@example.com
Mrs Julie Dunn, Technical Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Microbiology Laboratory aims to provide a comprehensive routine and emergency diagnostic service. In the interests of efficiency and effectiveness the service is delivered with the majority of investigations being performed in-house wherever numbers, service demands and costs allow. We are dedicated to providing the best quality service possible. To this end there are always people available to offer advice, assistance with interpretation and help in deciding on further investigations.
Microbiology is a Consultant led service with scientific and technical laboratory staff always available to answer queries and provide help.
Day to day advice can be obtained by contacting the Laboratory. Where specialist clinical advice on interpretation of tests is required please contact the Consultant Microbiologist relevant to your Trust.
The laboratory is staffed to provide 24hr a day service with the following patterns:
Monday to Friday:
7am – 8.30am Qualified staff members on duty
9am – 5pm ‘Core hours’ where most staff are on duty including senior staff and technical managers
5pm – 11pm Reduced qualified staff numbers
9pm – 7am Single qualified staff member on duty
7am – 11pm Qualified staff numbers on duty
11pm – 7am Single qualified staff member on duty
A list (not exhaustive) is available in the Tests link of this website. This section will give details of tests available, collection details, reference ranges and units, telephone criteria, turnaround times and any appropriate comments.
Some tests require special sample tubes and/or conditions, e.g. TB Quantiferon Gold and CSF samples. In these cases please contact the Laboratory BEFORE taking the sample. This is to try and ensure that correct procedures are followed and time is not wasted.
Where the test is very unusual, expensive or requires very special collection and/or transport conditions, then the request MUST be discussed BEFORE taking the sample with the Consultant Microbiologist relevant to your Trust or geographical area.
This is to ensure the most cost effective use of the Laboratory and that the most effective tests are used for diagnosis, it is NOT meant to obstruct the process of treatment. Failure to discuss the requirements may result in the sample being held for justification, which may cause delay.
Where tests are not performed on-site these will be indicated as ‘Referred’ and the turnaround times will be listed as those given by the referral laboratory whenever available. In the absence of this information it may be based on experience and hence may be an approximation.
The referral centers employed by SoTW Clinical Laboratory Services are selected based upon their UKAS accreditation status and their ability to meet the needs of our users. The laboratory periodically reviews the quality of these referral centers. Referred tests are indicated within the turnaround section of each individual Tests listing.
If you cannot locate any test or there is insufficient detail in this section then please contact the laboratory.
Most general microbiology tests are not available on an emergency basis. Only tests that will have an immediate effect on patient management should be requested as urgent. Some tests cannot be done due to time, complexity, cost or analyser availability and the laboratory staff on duty should be contacted for advice.
Urgent requests for microbiology will be processed straight away by the BMS on shift.
Where available ALL the requests should be made electronically using the ICE System:
Sunderland and South Tyneside Trusts requests electronically using Meditech Order Management:
Where or when paper requests need to be used to make a request, the following information is essential and MUST be provided:
- Forename (given and not a diminutive)
- Date of Birth
- Unit/NHS Number where possible
- Consultant or GP
- Ward or Surgery
Failure to provide ALL of the information above may result in the sample being rejected and not processed. A repeat sample(s) would then need to be collected.
Where samples need to be written by hand they MUST be labelled with the patient’s full Surname and Forename, Date of Birth and date and time of collection. Failure to provide this basic information may result in the sample being rejected and not processed. A repeat sample(s) would then need to be collected.
If the request has been made using ICE – all samples must be labelled with the ICE sample label/barcode. Samples should also be taken into the correct type of tube or container, if in doubt refer to the tests link on the website or contact the Laboratory for advice. Ideally a separate sample for each department is required but there are exceptions to the rule, e.g. patients very difficult to bleed, neonates.
Samples that are high risk or where there is a risk of infection; These samples should be double bagged and a yellow ‘Danger of Infection’ sticker placed on the bag to alert laboratory staff.
To safeguard patients against wrong treatment, samples with details that are grossly at odds with those on the ICE form will NOT be processed and the requesting source will be notified. In cases where there are no details on the sample:
- a repeat will be requested where it is easily obtained or
- in cases where it is difficult to obtain a further sample, the sample may be processed after discussion and the requesting clinician affirming, preferably in writing, that the sample is from the correct patient. A caveat will be added to any report.
Justification may be required for some tests. In these cases the sample will be held for a reasonable length of time to allow contact with the Consultant Microbiologist relevant to your Trust. This is to ensure that the most appropriate, cost effective investigations are performed.
It is extremely important for relevant Clinical Details to be included on the request and any details of antimicrobial therapy. This helps us to help you by giving advice and interpretation where necessary and to add other useful tests when indicated. The date and time the sample is taken should also be included.
Additional tests may be requested on samples already received, provided there is sufficient sample still available. Generally, requests for additional tests on the following sample types should be made within the following time frames:
- Urines, Faeces, Sputa, swabs and Chlamydia samples within 3 days
- Tissue, CSF, Fluids and tips within 7 days
- Serology samples within 1 month
Blood/Serum samples that have already been processed in Blood Sciences, are not suitable for additional Microbiology serological investigations. A new sample must be collected
Please contact the laboratory on ext 6499 (option 1) for Microbiology and then (option 1) for laboratory advice to make specific requests and discuss issues around the suitability of the stored sample.
Results that are significantly abnormal and not previously reported will be telephoned to the requesting location. This will be done whether or not the request has been deemed “urgent”
Where it is deemed appropriate comments and suggestions will be appended to the report, and further tests added by the Consultant Microbiologist relevant to your Trust.