5pm to 9am microbiology service

5pm to 9am bacteriology specimens

The Microbiology Laboratory will have on site cover 24 hours a day. However, there will be very limited staffing providing essential work between 17:00 and 09:00.


  • Requests for urgent samples between 5pm and 9am must be made via switchboard asking for the Microbiology Biomedical Scientist (BMS).
    • Urgent samples are as follows:
      • Cerebrospinal fluids (CSFs)
      • Operative specimens (pus/tissue)
      • Fluids from normally sterile sites e.g. joint/pleural/peritoneal fluids
      • Mid stream urines from children where management will be affected by microscopy result and suprapubic aspirate (SPAs)
      • Broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) for bacteriology
      • Corneal scrapes and vitreous taps


  • New blood cultures will be loaded and positive blood cultures will be processed 24/7. Therefore, please ensure all new blood cultures are sent to the Pathology Department at City and QMC as soon as they have been taken to avoid any delays in them being loaded to the analyser. There is hourly transport in place from Pathology at City to Pathology at QMC, 7 days a week.
  • Guidance on the interpretation of blood culture Gram film results is available on the intranet Antibiotics pages under the ‘Microbiology’ tab, to support clinicians who are reviewing patients out of hours.
  • Routine Bacteriology specimens will now be processed 7 days a week between 09:00 and 20:00.
  • Microbiology samples should be sent/taken to the Microbiology Reception Monday to Sunday between 08:00 and 17:00. Outside of these times please send via the airtube or deliver samples to Specimen Reception in Clinical Pathology, where Microbiology will collect them from.
  • There will be no changes to the medical advice service which will still be an on-call service via switchboard outside of Monday to Friday 09:00 until 17:00, but there will now be onsite presence 7 days a week between 09:00 and 17:00.
  • Please do not phone the lab for results. All results once finalised will appear on Medway/NotIS. If the result is not available it will still be undergoing processing in the laboratory.
  • If you are needing some general Microbiology related information, maybe what specimen container to use, how long should it take for results to come back or possibly some antibiotic guidance, then here are a couple of useful links that should help:

Clinical Microbiology Handbook - NU

On-call medical microbiology/virology advice

The Medical Microbiologists are in the Department 7 days a week between 09:00 and 17:00. Outside these times an on-call service is provided.

The on-call Medical Microbiologist ( registrar or Consultant) is on-call from home and covers both City and QMC campuses. They can be contacted via the Hospital switchboard fur urgent clinical advice, advice about urgent infection control issues and t discuss needle stick injuries from high risk patients. They DO NOT have access to results.


Before telephoning for advice it is expected that the referring clinician will have :

  • Discussed with their seniors if appropriate and if after midnight ALL calls  must have been sanctioned by a registrar / Consultant if a junior trainee is making the call. (This has been agreed by the Hospital at Night Operations group)
  • Made a clinical assessment of the patient
  • Sent the correct samples
  • Checked NOTIS for recent results including bloods
  • Looked for information on the Antibiotic guidelines or the Microbiology intranet site

Out-of-hours virology and serology specimens

The laboratory operates a Saturday/Sunday and Bank Holiday day-time service for the following tests:

  • Urgent HIV tests and Hepatitis B surface antigen
  • PCR on NPAs or other respiratory samples for influenza A, RSV and other respiratory viruses

The on-call medical microbiologist (via switchboard) should be alerted in the morning regarding these urgent virology tests to ensure a same-day result.

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