Key information


The Microbiology Department is located within the main Pathology Services Building at the Manor Hospital on Route 020.  On exiting the hospital through the main rotary doors, turn left and continue to walk around the perimeter of the main building. The entrance is 70 metres on the left, signposted ‘020 Pathology’.

The address of the department is:

Department of Microbiology
Walsall Manor Hospital
Moat Road
Walsall WS2 9PS

Laboratory Opening Hours

The Laboratory is open between 8.45 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. during the week, between 8.00 am and 4.00 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays (except Christmas Day which is on-call only).  Routine samples are accepted in the department between 9.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. on weekdays. Samples arriving after 5.00 p.m. will be refrigerated overnight unless pre-arranged by phone.

Emergency (on-call) requests

The on-call service is provided by on-call Biomedical Scientists (BMS) from home.

The On-call BMS must be contacted by the requesting doctor (after the specimen has been obtained) via the switchboard, and the specimen delivered to the laboratory. The requesting doctor must make all arrangements for specimen delivery to the pathology department. Investigations should only be requested on-call when the results are required for immediate patient management.  Advice on specimen management may be obtained from the medical microbiologist on-call via the switchboard.

Guidelines for on-call requests are given below. If asked by the on-call Biomedical Scientist for your reason for requesting a test, you should give the clinical indications, no reasonable request will be refused but the Biomedical Scientist will be at liberty to ask you to consult the on-call Consultant Microbiologist to discuss the necessity for the investigation.

You must complete the request form and include your contact point (telephone or bleep number).

Guidelines For On-call Requests

Sample Type

On-call system

CSF Samples

Will always be examined in cases of suspected infectious meningitis.

Ascitic fluid

Synovial fluid

Urgent requests will always be examined

Sputum, Swabs

Emergency investigation is rarely useful.

Urine Samples

All urine samples should be dipstick tested prior to consideration for urgent microscopy. A visually clear sample with a negative result on dipstick testing is very unlikely to grow significant organisms. For the majority of patients, empirical antibiotic therapy may be started, after the appropriate samples are taken for processing the following day.

Pus / Abscess

Emergency microscopy may direct empirical antibiotic therapy; however a Gram stain could be misleading, particularly if the patient is already receiving antibiotics.



Norovirus may be performed only in agreement with the Consultant Microbiologist.

Laboratory Supplies

Routine items can be found in West Wing Blood Bank. These include:

  • Blood culture bottles
  • Universal containers
  • Charcoal Trans-swabs

The following items can be obtained from the Microbiology Department:

  • Viral transport medium
  • Chlamydia transport media (for swabs and urine)
  • Chlamydia eye collection kits
  • ENT fine Trans-swabs
  • Blue topped flexible pernasal swabs
  • EMU bottles for TB culture

GP practices can order supplies using a consumables order form.  Spare forms are available from the Department of Pathology.

Advice and information regarding specimen containers is available from the Microbiology department

Ordering Tests   

Wherever possible requests for Microbiology/Virology should be made using the Order comm. system.  Instructions for using the Order comm. are available here

Requests made other than by Order comm. should be sent using Microbiology forms.


A separate Microbiology request form is required for each specimen (Except MRSA screening swabs)

Illegible or incorrect information can lead to problems of interpretation of analysis and reporting. Urgent specimens should include contact details (bleep/phone number). All specimens must be accompanied by a request form fully completed and include:

  • The Full name of the patient
  • Date of birth
  • Sex of patient
  • Hospital unit number/NHS Number
  • Ward
  • Name of requestor (clinician, healthcare provider or other person legally authorised to request examinations
  • Investigation required
  • Site of infection
  • Significant clinical information – Quality of results depends on the details provided
  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Request date
  • The patients GP (if known)

Date and time of specimen collection

Additional requests

It is possible to perform additional in–house tests on samples that have already been sent to the laboratory. To request an additional test, phone the laboratory to check that this is possible, send a request form to the laboratory, with the required test(s). Write on the form “Specimen in lab”.

Time limits for Additional requests

There is a time limit in which additional requests can be made; this is determined by length of storage in the laboratory and sample integrity*. If requests are made outside of this time limit the request will be rejected.

Specimen type Storage time
CSF 2 months
Urines 4 days
Swab 4 days
Faeces 7 days
Sputum 7 days
Chlamydia swabs 4 weeks
All Bloods 7 days

NB      Sample integrity will depend on sample type and type of request

High Risk Specimens

Processing specimens from patients with certain suspected or proven infections may be particularly hazardous to pathology staff. Infections and specimens, which fall into this category, are listed below. These samples must be handled as “DANGER OF INFECTION”. Appropriate Danger of Infection labels should be attached to request forms and specimens. Specimens must be DOUBLE BAGGED.

Stocks of Danger of Infection labels should be available in all wards and departments and can be re-ordered via NHS supplies. Samples requiring labelling and handling as “Danger of Infection” include all specimens from patients suspected or proven to have the following infections:

  • HIV
  • Fever in returning traveller. All specimens from patients who have a fever and have travelled outside northern Europe in the last 6 months, i.e. risk of infections such as typhoid fever, brucellosis, viral haemorrhagic fever, MERS Co-V. FULL DETAILS MUST BE INCLUDED ON REQUEST FORM
  • Sputum and other material that may contain tubercle bacilli from patients with suspected or proven tuberculosis.
  • CSF, Brain tissues and spinal cord material from patients with, or suspected of having Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease/Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (CJD/TSE)
  • Stools and blood cultures from patients suspected of having typhoid fever.
  • CSFs and blood cultures from patients suspected of meningococcal disease
  • Other samples as directed by the Infection Control Team or consultant microbiologist.

The pneumatic tube system MUST NOT be used for the transport of any high risk specimen.

Transport of Specimens

All samples for Microbiological investigation must be placed in the sealable plastic specimen bag attached to the request form. This can then be taken to the nearest specimen collection site, or transported direct to the laboratory or pathology office. Samples may be brought directly to the office in the Pathology Department, via the pod system or placed at the reception sites within the Hospital to await collection by the laboratory porter.

Urgent specimens, i.e. CSFs should be brought to the laboratory without delay.

The requesting clinician is responsible for the collection of urgent specimens and their transport to the relevant department. Notification of the urgency of the request must be made by telephone to the Microbiology department or the specimen will be treated as a normal batch specimen. Upon telephoning the Medical Officer should stress the degree of urgency.

Outside Normal Working Hours

Non-urgent samples should be stored in specimen collection sites around the hospital. A refrigerator is available in West Wing Blood Bank. Specimens will be collected by the laboratory porter the following day.

Urgent specimens, i.e. CSFs should be brought to the laboratory without delay.

Protection of personal information

The Microbiology department recognises that the lawful and correct treatment of personal data is very important to the successful operations and in maintaining public confidence in the service.

Any personal data the Microbiology Department collects, records or uses in any way whether it is held on paper, on computer or other media will have appropriate safeguards applied to it to ensure that the Trust complies with the Data Protection Act 1998 (Act).

As part of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, the Microbiology Department also adheres to its governance and data protection policies which incorporate the Data Protection Act, as listed below:-

  • Freedom of Information Act 2000  Policy
  • Confidentiality Policy
  • Information Governance Management Framework

Complaints procedure

Complaints may be made directly to staff within the laboratory via telephone, email or face to face contact. For clinical complaints, please contact Dr S Jones. For all other complaints contact Stephen Farley (ext 7125). Complaints can also be made through PALS.