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Samples, request forms and transport

Published on 11 December 2023

Sample requirements

Referring sites must be aware of the sample storage and transport requirements to ensure samples arrive in time for us to carry out testing before the age of the samples exceeds the assay storage time.

The current version of NATF 1552 specifies our requirements:

Read NATF 1552.

Samples must not be grossly haemolysed or lipaemic.

Failure to ensure these conditions are met could compromise the accuracy and reliability of the results generated.

Testing of samples out with these conditions may still be possible but it is the responsibility of the referring site or referring officer to provide a sample that won’t compromise the integrity of the results.

Our staff will inspect the condition of the sample (age, level of haemolysis and volume) when it arrives at the lab and decide whether to proceed with testing.


  • For screening and confirmatory testing: 2ml of serum and/or plasma.
  • For confirmatory testing, sub-aliquot sample into barcode labelled archive tubes or other suitably labelled sample tubes. We can provide archive tubes on request.
  • For screening we accept blood collection vacutainers (for example red top, purple top, PPT tube).

Nucleic acid testing

  • For screening and confirmatory testing: 1ml of plasma and/or serum required for each NAT test.
  • Sample can be in any tube or blood collection vacutainer.
  • Samples collected in PPT gel tubes should be centrifuged as per the manufacturer’s instructions prior to referral - ideally within 24 hours but no later than 72 hours after collection.

Request forms

You must refer samples to us with a request form:

Samples can also be referred with a letter from the referring consultant or officer.

The letter must contain sufficient information to make a positive link with the sample, including:

  • investigations required
  • referring site
  • donation/sample number
  • donor/patient ID
  • date of sample bleed
  • name and contact details of person referring sample
  • any other information relevant the testing required or the sample handling


Samples that are potentially infectious should be packaged in line with UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations.

Find out more about transporting dangerous goods on the HSE website.

Where to send samples for testing

Jack Copland Centre
52 Research Avenue North
EH14 4BE

Find out more about test results and reporting.