Newcastle Laboratories

Update on the Transfer of PHE North East Diagnostic Services to the Trust

We’re delighted to announce the transfer to the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust of Public Health England (PHE) North East’s Diagnostic Mycobacterial and Molecular services. From today, the Trust will be providing a unified microbiology and virology service, including a full range of molecular tests in our new state of the art molecular laboratory.

Below is a reminder of some practical information to help with the changes that have taken place as a result of this service development:

  • Laboratory accreditation. Extensive work has been carried out to validate the new assays and platform and to ensure laboratory protocols and procedures conform to the standards required for laboratory accreditation. Please note that until the laboratory is formally inspected by UKAS the molecular and Mycobacterial results will fall outside the scope of accreditation. We will keep users updated.
  • Sample transport. All microbiology and virology testing will now be performed at the Freeman Hospital. Although there will be regular couriers between sites, to minimise delay please ensure samples are delivered to the Freeman Hospital.
  • Swabs for C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoea molecular testing. Please note that if you refer these samples to us, we require Cobas PCR swabs. Urine samples can be sent as normal. If you require the Cobas swabs please contact 0191 282 1104 for details.
  • Quantitative PCR for HIV, hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus has moved to the Roche Cobas®6800 platform. This is essentially a fully automated version of the Cobas ampliprep assay previously used by the PHE. There is excellent correlation between the assays.
  • Quantitative PCR for CMV, EBV and adenovirus will move to a new commercial assay. Due to the variability in quantitative results between assays there will be some difference in quantification between the old and new assays, particularly affecting CMV. We have previously circulated detailed information about this. Specific cases can be discussed with the virologists on 0191 2821104 or transplant microbiologist on 0191 2231248.
  • Other assays. The Trust will continue to provide the full range of assays previously provided and we will also be developing a service improvement plan to introduce new assays in the future.

We apologise for any disruptions to the service that you may have noticed over the past few months, however we do hope that the close co-operation of the Trust and PHE North East has minimised any difficulties during this period of change. We hope that you and your patients will benefit from the service improvements made possible by the introduction of the Trust’s new unified service.

For further information, please contact: Dr Kathy Walton, Head of Department, Microbiology and Virology Services, Dr Sheila Waugh, Consultant Virologist or Ms Jennifer Collins, Operational Manager. For advice from PHE, please contact Prof Kate Gould, Lead Public Health Microbiologist or Ms Anne Barrett, Regional Head of Operations.