Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How should I send samples?
  2. Do you do work for members of the public?
  3. Do you offer a fast track service for urgent testing?
  4. Can visits to your laboratory be arranged?
  5. How will my results be sent to me?
  6. What are the recommended sample types and quantities for a given test?
  7. What are the sensitivities of your assays?
  8. What are your hours of operation?
  9. What quality assurance do you employ?

How should I send samples?

We recommend the use of the DX service, but any courier service or guaranteed first class post is acceptable.

NB: The DX service requires the sender to have a contract with DX. Further information

The laboratory is staffed Monday to Friday 08:30 to 17:30 and on Saturday for the unpacking and labelling of samples, which will be placed in cold-storage until the next working day.

Before sending samples please check that:

  • the sample is of the correct type
  • the sample is correctly labelled
  • the sample is correctly packaged.

 Please be aware that it is the responsibility of the sender to comply with safety regulations when transporting material.

For full information on this subject, visit Sample Advice.


Do you do work for members of the public?

No. We undertake diagnostic work for hospital departments, laboratories and medical practitioners. We undertake research and development work for and with university departments, pharmaceutical companies and other organisations. We will supply information about our testing and our Microbiologist will liaise with your GP or physician if this is seen to be helpful.


Do you offer a fast track service for urgent testing?

We offer an 8-hour service from receipt of clinical specimens for double the normal sample analysis price. Please enquire BEFORE requesting this service; we may be able to offer a routine assay that is as fast on the day and will cost no extra.

At weekends, please telephone to arrange urgent analysis. We place a weekend premium on our charges for urgent analysis; please enquire by telephone if you are considering using this service.


Can visits to your laboratory be arranged?

Yes, all clients or prospective clients are very welcome to visit our laboratory.

To arrange a visit, please contact us.


How will my results be sent to me?

Currently, results are faxed to users between 16:00 and 18:00 daily.

The primary delivery method is to a designated fax number. However, we can e-mail the results to you as PDF attachments.

Where results are seen to be urgent they will be faxed as soon as possible, or you will be contacted by telephone.

Unless specifically requested not to do so, we will send you hard copy of the week’s results by first class post. These are normally dispatched over the weekend.


What are the recommended sample types and quantities for a given test?

For details, please see Sample Advice.


What are the sensitivities of your assays?

Sensitivity depends on the quality of the clinical sample and the test performed. We can give a measure of sensitivity in terms of organisms or genome copies detected, based on cell culture isolates of wild type virus or bacterial culture. Many molecular detection systems are more sensitive for clinical use than conventional culture methods because the organism does not have to remain viable to allow detection. Antibody assays may be measured in International Units.

All submitted specimens are processed with a nucleic acid extraction procedure that has been shown to overcome the potential inhibition of assays associated with clinical material. Urine samples however, may still contain enough inhibitors, even after extraction, to affect the detection of low levels of target nucleic acid. Please bear this in mind when considering results from urine samples e.g. Chlamydia trachomatis testing.


What are your hours of operation?

The laboratory is fully staffed Monday to Friday 08:30 to 17:30. We receive samples on Saturday morning and these will be processed on the next Monday.

Outside of these hours an on-call clinical advice service is always available.


What quality assurance do you employ?

For details of our quality assurances, please see Quality Assurance.