About EPA Immunology

The Clinical Immunology Department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is part of Eastern Pathology Alliance (EPA), a network also involving the James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn. These pages cover Clinical Immunology services at NNUH.

In order to maintain high standards of analysis this Department participates in national external quality assessment schemes (EQA) including General Autoimmune, Specialist Proteins and Allergy, and maintains its own internal system of quality control checks (IQC), routine validation and daily calibrations on all assays where appropriate. Full details of EQA scheme participation are available on request.

These pages contain information about how users can access our services, who to contact for advice, which tests we perform, sample requirements, normal ranges and turnaround times. The information provided is accurate at time of issue and is reviewed and updated regularly.

For patients using this website, please note that any information provided should not be used for self-diagnosis and should you have any concerns about your health please consult your GP.

If you find any errors within this document or would like to make any comments and/or suggestions for improvement, please contact David Stokely, EPA Quality Manager on 01603 286900 or email [email protected].

Test Samples

General Sample Guidelines can be downloaded here.

Sample Acceptance/Rejection Criteria can be downloaded here

Packaging and Transport of Samples

Samples are a potential source of infection and should be treated accordingly. Please fill all sample bottles with the correct volume of blood to ensure correct anticoagulation, and all containers must be securely closed. Leaking samples with gross contamination of contents and containers are discarded. Pocket bags are available for sample transport. Samples should be placed in the appropriate container, which must be securely fastened. This must be placed in a clear plastic bag and sealed. Samples accompanied by forms without specimen bags must be put into marsupial bags with the request form being placed in the side pouch.

Refer to local Trust policies.

Sending Samples

The transport of samples from GP surgeries or other primary care locations is carried out by the Logistics service staff who will collect all samples from dedicated collection points. Samples from within the hospital can be transported to Pathology either by the Pneumatic Tube System (PTS) if suitable or by a porter. For urgent samples ward staff are required to arrange delivery to the laboratory. Samples must first be placed in the plastic sample bags together with the completed request form.

The safe transport of specimens to the laboratory is the responsibility of the requesting doctor or carrier. Laboratory responsibility for the sample begins when it has arrived at the laboratory.


  • Packaging, labelling and transportation of specimen’s policy Trust Doc ID 7808
  • Transportation of specimen’s policy Trust Doc ID 7806
  • Introducing Pre-Labelling of Pathology Samples Trust Doc ID 14472

Sending sample via the pneumatic tube system

  • All items MUST be sent in the carriers provided.
  • Samples MUST not be placed directly into the carriers. ALL Pathology samples MUST be placed in specimen bags and the lids of all items with the potential to leak (fluids etc.) tightly secured BEFORE placing them in the carriers.
  • Do not cram samples/items into the carrier as this may lead to breakage/leakage and system failure.
  • Only one carrier at a time should be placed in a delivery station.
  • Ensure that carriers are closed securely at both ends to avoid them jamming in the tube network.
  • If any defect is noticed with the operation of the air-tube systems please notify the laboratory at the earliest opportunity.
  • The system must not be used for sending consumables and other “forbidden items” around the hospital.

The air tube systems are for the transport of Blood Sciences specimens to the laboratories only.

The air-tube system should NOT to be used for:

  • Danger of Infection samples
  • Blood gases
  • Blood cultures
  • Unrepeatable samples
  • CSFs (for culture, protein, glucose or xanthochromia)


“High Risk” samples

Medical officers responsible for the care of patients have a duty of care towards other members of staff – therefore all samples from patients who are known to have, or strongly suspected of having the conditions noted below must be identified.

  • Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease
  • Viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) of any type
  • Microorganisms, (biological agents) in Hazard Group 3 or 4.
  • Pyrexia of unknown origin (PUO) recently returned from Africa.

Medical staff should ensure that appropriate information, including relevant travel history, is provided in order to alert laboratory staff of potential dangers. Clinical details supplied on sample request forms must contain clear information regarding the nature of the test being requested and sufficient detail to inform laboratory staff upon the safety precautions they need to take in order to process the sample without risk of infection.

If, during patient intervention, further information becomes available that has implications for the safety of laboratory staff this must be communicated immediately to the laboratory so that appropriate steps regarding containment can be taken.

NOTE: Patient suspected of having VHF (guidelines) v3. Doc ID 10584

Rejection of unacceptable specimens

Specimens and request forms are checked on receipt to confirm the patient identification (PID) information provided on the form and specimen agree. There are 4 PID data items; Surname, Forename, Date of Birth and ID Number (Hospital or NHS) which are required by the laboratory and these must match in order for the specimen to be accepted. It is good practice for us to have location and date & time of sample collection. If errors are found the laboratory may contact the requestor, explain the problem and request a repeat specimen.

For samples that are not easily repeated (such as CSF or paediatric samples) the problem will first be discussed with a BMS from the relevant section who will make a decision on whether testing may be allowed to proceed (usually after discussion with the clinician concerned). If the specimen is tested the report will clearly state the nature of the problem as a comment. Alternatively, the requesting clinician will be asked to send a repeat sample.

For further details regarding incompletely labelled samples or forms please contact the laboratory.

Contact details for the Infection Protection and Control Nurses:

Mon-Fri 09:00 – 17:00
Tel 01603 289847 (Ext: 5847)

Email: IP&[email protected]

Out of hours: First contact the relevant site practitioner. 

Procedure for requesting add-on investigation(s) from outside the Trust

  • The clinician must phone into the laboratory if add-on investigation(s) required.
  • Only those on the agreed list are added on. If other investigations are required they will have to be discussed with the Haematology Consultant who is contactable via switchboard.
  • While requester is on the phone the following message will be read out to the requesting clinician:

“If we can find the sample it will be processed but this may take a while. Also if you are intending to take another sample at any time in the near future this may be the quicker route.”

  • If insufficient or inappropriate sample then it is the responsibility of the relevant section to inform requesting clinician of problem.
Referred Tests

Some specialised or low volume assays are referred to external laboratories for analysis; these may take up to 4 weeks for a result to become available. Please contact the laboratory if there is any urgency for these investigations. Information regarding specimen type for referred tests can be obtained by contacting the laboratory.

In line with accreditation requirements we endeavour to use accredited laboratories whenever possible. Further information on the reference laboratories we use can be obtained from the Individual Head of Section or from the Quality Manager if required.


Authorised results are available on the ICE system, which is updated in real time throughout the day.  If a result is needed urgently and/or cannot be found via the ICE system the laboratory may be contacted on 01603 286929/286932 (Ext 2929/2932).

 Results of urgent requests if ICE access or electronic delivery is not available and unexpected results, which may aid the immediate patient management, will be telephoned.

 In the event that the laboratory is unable to deliver the required service due to equipment failure we will endeavor to contact all relevant users.

 For criteria for telephoning results click here

Opening Times


Monday08:00 - 17:00
Tuesday08:00 - 17:00
Wednesday08:00 - 17:00
Thursday08:00 - 17:00
Friday08:00 - 17:00

Immunology can be contacted by calling our laboratory on direct dial 01603 286922 or internal ext. 2922.

Outside the office working hours you will be directed to phone another number for enquiries.  Qualified Biomedical Scientists are available in the department to undertake emergency and certain routine tests.  Special or unusual tests may have to be analysed in batches and may not be available outside the core times.

Urgent Immunology testing must be discussed with the laboratory

The laboratory can be found in East Block Level 1 sign posted ‘Pathology’