HEFT Directorate of Pathology Blog

Welcome to the Directorate of Laboratory Medicine blog. Here you will find all the latest news and informaiton relevant to the directorate and its services.



PHE Newsletter Spring 2015 Edition

on Monday, 27 April 2015. Posted in Microbiology

Please find the Spring 2015 edition of the PHE Birmingham Newsletter here

Guidance on Testing for Paroxysmal Nocturnal Haemoglobinuria

Written by Mark Hill on Thursday, 08 January 2015. Posted in Haematology, General

Guidance on Testing for Paroxysmal Nocturnal Haemoglobinuria

Paroxysmal Nocturnal Haemoglobinuria (PNH) is an acquired haematopoietic stem cell disorder resulting in a partial or total deficiency of proteins normally linked to cell membranes by a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor. Classical features are;

  • intravascular haemolysis
  • bone marrow failure
  • thrombotic tendency
  • may also include abdominal pain, dysphagia, erectile dysfunction, renal failure, lethargy

It can often go undiagnosed for months or even years. Flow cytometry can provide a definitive diagnosis.

Click here for further guidance on PNH testing. Contact the laboratory on 0121 424 0704.

Turning off Hard Copy Reports

Written by Craig Webster on Friday, 08 August 2014. Posted in General

Turning off Hard Copy Reports

As you will be aware, laboratory reports are sent to your Practice both by electronic transfer and in hard copy form. The Directorate has received several requests to cease printing and sending hard copy reports as they have limited value with the current electronic systems in place. Unfortunately, until recently, it has not been possible to prevent the printing of hard copy reports to individual locations. We are pleased to inform you that technical advancements now make this possible.

PHE Birmingham Newsletter: Summer 2014

on Monday, 30 June 2014. Posted in Microbiology

Please find the Summer 2014 edition of the PHE Birmingham Newsletter here

Notification of changes to CA19-9

Written by Craig Webster on Tuesday, 10 June 2014. Posted in Blood Sciences, Biochemistry

On Wednesday 11th June the method for the CA19-9 assay at HEFT will change from the Siemens Immulite assay to the Roche assay. Our comparisons have shown that the results are comparable in most cases; however, there were some samples which did show a poor correlation.  We are therefore going to dual report results for a period to allow transition of serially monitored patients to the new CA199 assay.

Further more detailed information is available on request. If you have any queries or comments please contact Craig Webster (Clinical Lead for Blood Sciences) by email or ext 42930.

Laboratory Information System Migration

on Thursday, 29 May 2014. Posted in Blood Sciences, Microbiology, Cellular Pathology, Haematology, Immunology, Biochemistry, General

Laboratory Information System Migration
In order to bring systems in line with the restructured laboratory services the Laboratory Medicine directorate will be migrating to new Laboratory Information System Databases for Blood Sciences and Microbiology.
The migration is due to commence at 8am Monday 2nd June.
No downtime is anticipated but there may be some temporary disruption as the migration progresses.
The Blood Sciences System will replace what is currently the separate disciplines of Chemistry, Haematology and Immunology as a single department. As such the ICE Reporting System will display reports as Blood Sciences (Orange highlighting).

Important Notice re PTH analysis

Written by Craig Webster on Friday, 14 February 2014. Posted in Blood Sciences, Biochemistry

Abbott Diagnostics withdraws PTH assay with Immediate Effect

Important Notice re PTH analysis
Dear Colleague,

Product Recall: Parathyroid hormone (PTH) test

Abbott Laboratories who supply our major laboratory biochemistry analysers and the reagents for the majority of the tests we run on these machines, have issued a global product recall for their parathyroid hormone (PTH) test. We received an initial warning of this recall by phone on 13th February and written confirmation and further details this morning. We have been instructed to stop using their PTH assay immediately and destroy our current stocks of reagent.

New telephone number for Microbiology

Written by Craig Webster on Tuesday, 29 October 2013. Posted in Microbiology, General

New telephone number for Microbiology

7th November Microbiology will be changing their telephone number to 0121 424 3111 please? This is an automated system and users should follow the instructions given.

PHE Newsletter January 2015 Edition

on Thursday, 22 January 2015. Posted in Microbiology

Please find the January 2015 edition of the PHE Birmingham Newsletter here

Action to Be Taken on Finding a New Monoclonal Protein in a Patient

Written by Steve Rimmer on Wednesday, 19 November 2014. Posted in Immunology

Action to Be Taken on Finding a New Monoclonal Protein in a Patient

New guidance on action to take on finding a monoclonal protein can be found here.

TB Genomics Service Pilot Project

on Monday, 30 June 2014. Posted in Microbiology

TB Genomics Service: Pilot project to start next month

PHE Birmingham are launching our TB Genomics Service pilot project next month.


  • In the last 10-months we have participated in an eight-centre international collaboration study on TB Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) led by Oxford which has used DNA extracted from MGIT. 
  • The Oxford led project is a feasibility study on the use of WGS in TB diagnosis, resistance profiling and epidemiological mapping of outbreaks. During this Feasibility study, working with our colleagues at Oxford, DNA extraction and MiSeq sequencing methodologies have been established at Heartlands. Raw sequence data has been shared with Oxford through a cloud setup and analysis reports (on mycobacterial species identity, drug resistance predictions and strain typing) received within 48 hours of the raw data being uploaded.

Withdrawal of IL28B test

on Wednesday, 18 June 2014. Posted in Microbiology

Public Health England  Public Health Laboratory Birmingham will no longer be offering an IL28B testing service. Please see Letter to Users for further details.

Change to Thyroid requesting

Written by Craig Webster on Thursday, 29 May 2014. Posted in Blood Sciences, Biochemistry

Change to Thyroid requesting

As of 27th May 2014 TSH only will be the frontline test for investigating Thyroid function. If the TSH is <0.35 mU/L or >4.9 mU/L a fT4 will be automatically added on to the request. If the TSH is <0.1 mU/L fT3 will also be added. The reason for this is to encourage more appropriate use of the thyroid tests. If you have any queries or concerns please contact the duty biochemist (bleep 2506).

PTH Update

Written by Craig Webster on Tuesday, 04 March 2014. Posted in Blood Sciences, Biochemistry

PTH Update

From 27th February 2014 we will be resuming a PTH service from Heartlands using the Roche intact PTH assay (iPTH).  It is difficult to directly compare results determined from the previous Abbott assay to the Roche assay as the Abbott method had a significant positive bias with respect to Roche, therefore you should expect slightly lower results now.  The reference range for iPTH on the Roche assay is 1.6-6.9 pmol/L. 


Analysis will be batched daily, Monday-Friday.  As previously plasma from EDTA samples is the preferred sample type.  If there is a need for an urgent PTH the current process of contacting the duty biochemist/duty consultant will continue and the urgent pathway implemented. If there are any queries clinicians should contact the duty biochemist/duty consultant.


on Wednesday, 08 January 2014. Posted in Microbiology, General


The PHE Public Health Laboratory Birmingham are changing the type of sample tubes required for urines sent for microscopy, culture and sensitivity testing (M,C&S). The new tubes will fit directly onto the laboratory’s new automated analysers which will speed up the processing of urines. This is part of the quality improvement and technical modernisation strategy of the laboratory. The smaller volume required to fill the new style boric acid containers should also reduce the number of samples we cannot process due to them being under-filled. For urines for tests other than M,C&S (e.g. Pregnancy test, legionella antigen, virology, TB culture, chlamydia and gonorrhoea) please continue to use the sample containers currently required for those tests. For CSF's and any sterile sites e.g. Ascitic Fluid, Knee Aspirates, Pleural Fluids, PD Fluids, Pus samples and any other fluid samples please send them in a 20ml universal. Urines for MC&S in a 20ml universal will be rejected, so please send in correct container. Please check your requisition form to make sure you can order both types of specimwn containers.

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HTA licence number is 12366

Protection of Personal Information – Laboratory Medicine comply with the Trust Data Protection Policy and have procedures in place to allow the Directorate and it’s employees to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and associated best practice and guidance.

The Trust Laboratories at Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital were awarded UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accreditation to the internationally recognised ISO 15189 standard in May 2015. For a list of accredited tests and other information please visit the test database http://www.heftpathology.com/frontpage/test-database.html.
Tests not appearing on this scope are either under consideration or in the process of accreditation and so currently remain outside of our scope of accreditation. However, these tests have been validated to the same high standard as accredited tests and are performed by the same trained and competent staff.

For further information contact Louise Fallon, Quality Manager, 0121 424 1235

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