Specimen Dispatch to the Lab from Northern Devon District Hospital Locations

Specimens are collected by Sodexo staff from N.D.D.H. wards, clinics and departments at scheduled times throughout office hours. Additional collections can be arranged from some N.D.D.H. locations by contacting the laboratory on ext. 5767.

For urgent to be processed outside office hours, (weekdays after 17:30, weekends & bank holidays), you should contact ext. 5900 to arrange specimen transport directly with the porters.

Specimen Dispatch to the Lab from GP Practice Locations (Mon-Fri 09:00 to 17:30)

Specimens are collected by Sodexo staff from GP practices at scheduled times throughout the day, Monday to Friday. Use of the practice centrifuge is encouraged at all times, as it may help preserve samples until the next courier collection.

Specimen Dispatch to the Lab from Other Locations

Individual practitioners (doctors, nurses etc.) can transport specimens directly to the laboratory, observing the information on correct transportation, packaging, labelling guidelines and laboratory opening times, found within these pages.

Community practitioners (midwives, community nurses, nursing home practitioners) can transport specimens to the nearest GP practice or community hospital for those specimens to be included in the next scheduled collection from that location, having observed the information on correct transportation, packaging and labelling guidelines found within these pages.

Urgent Specimen Transport Information

The Pathology Department defines urgent specimens as:

  • Telephone requests (to phone results), received by the Pathology reception staff or directly to the specific laboratories.
  • Specimens for Biochemistry and/or Haematology, received from A/E, ICU, SCBU, MAU, ASU and CCU/Victoria (with or without a telephone requestup until midnight – after midnight you must contact the lab to let them know urgent specimens are on their way).
  • Microbiology – any specimen where a telephoned request has been received, at any time of the day or night.
  • Histology frozen sections – These must be discussed and booked with a Consultant Histopathologist – contact laboratory on 01271 (32)2340.

Sending an Urgent Specimen During the Day (Mon-Fri 09:00 to 17:30)

From NDDH Locations: Telephone 5767 to let the lab staff know it is coming.  Porters will collect the specimens from NDDH locations and deliver them to the lab. Urgent requests are kept separate from routine requests and taken at once to the appropriate laboratory to enable immediate processing. The results should be phoned back to you.

From GP/Community Hospital Locations: Telephone 01271 335767  to let the lab staff know it is coming. If the urgent specimen has missed the scheduled courier collection, inform the lab and they will make arrangements for the specimen to be collected and brought to the lab.

Urgent specimens from GP practices must include a contact number to telephone results back to the requester. In the case where the GP practice has closed the laboratory will contact Devon Doctors (Out of Hours GP Service), with the results, so they can contact the patient if necessary.

Sending an Urgent Specimen Out of Hours (Mon-Fri 17:30 to 09:00) & Weekends/Bank Holidays 

From NDDH Locations:On-call staff check for the arrival of biochemistry & haematology/transfusion specimens every half hour up until midnight. After midnight, you must contact the on-call biochemistry & haematology BMS staff via the NDDH switchboard, (01271 322577 or 0 from inside the NDDH), or by bleeping Haematology on 045 & Biochemistry on 031.

For urgent Microbiology specimens you must contact the on-call microbiology BMS via switchboard.

You must always inform the porters ext. 5900 to arrange urgent specimen transport to the lab during the out of hours period, even up to midnight.

From Devon Doctors/Community Hospital Locations: Devon Doctors specimens can be brought back to A/E at NDDH for transport to the lab via the NDDH porters.

For urgent specimens from community hospitals, contact the on-call pathology staff via the NDDH switchboard, 01271 322577 who will arrange a courier to collect the specimen and bring it to NDDH pathology.


All pathological specimens are considered as being potentially hazardous and/or infectious. Therefore, samples are to be transported in secure carriers supplied by the laboratory for this purpose.

  • If a specimen leaks into a carrier, inform the laboratory staff and ask them to deal with the spillage.
  • If breakage of a sample occurs, summon help from the laboratory while ensuring that the affected area is not touched by others.
  • A Trust incident form must be completed in order to assess whether any interventions may be required to prevent a recurrence.

The Trust's Standard Infection Control Precautions Policy can be accessed here.

High Risk Samples

There is no special procedure for handling or transporting any pathological sample that traditionally may have been considered High Risk. The only exception to this is viral haemorrhagic fever cases.

No specimens should be taken from patients suspected of being infected with Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (e.g. Lassa Fever; Marburg; Ebola; Yellow Fever), without the prior agreement of the Consultant Microbiologist: ext.2320 (01271 322320). Refer to the Trust's Viral Haemorrhagic Fever Policy.

Last updated: May 1, 2020