Enquiries: 01305 251150

Updated 3 April 2024

Nearly every patient of the NHS has had dealings with pathology services at some point in their care pathway.

Tests maybe be requested to look for abnormalities within samples, but quite often these tests are performed  to confirm everything is okay. Preventative screenings, tests can help with the early detection of potentially fatal conditions.

Pathology also plays a major role in ensuring that blood transfusions are safe.

The main specialties in pathology are:


Blood Sciences (Biochemistry, Haematology)

Histopathology (Histology, Non-Gynae Cytology)

Hospital Transfusion

Microbiology (Bacteriology, Virology, Mycology and Parasitology)


Associated services include:

Specimen transport
Specimens should be placed in the appropriate container and must be securely fastened. This must be placed in a clear plastic bag and sealed.

Please place the request form in the pocket, not in the bag with the sample.

If the specimen is to be posted the packaging MUST comply with UN3733 packaging regulations and postal regulations.

Porters should be called for samples that cannot be transported through the vacuum system, if the system is not working or the location does not have a carrier station.

Samples that must not be sent via the vacuum system are:

  • CSFs and other unrepeatable samples
  • Large volume liquids e.g. 250ml urine containers for TB                                       

Phlebotomy services/specimen collection

Special handling samples
There are several tests that require special handling requirements and can only be taken at Dorset County Hospital. This is for many reasons but mainly due to time dependency. These test can include:

  • Lupus
  • Thrombophilia
  • Plasma Metanephrines
  • Aldo Renin
  • Gut Hormones and Chromogranin
  • Vitamins A/B1/B6
  • Cyroglobulins
  • ACTH

General Practice Surgeries are invited to contact us directly by at phlebotomy.services@dchft.nhs.uk if they require a phlebotomy appointment for special handling samples or samples that have been unable to be collected due to a challenging venepuncture. 

The Pathology Department

The Pathology Department is located on Level 3 North Wing and aims to provide a high quality pathology service to acute hospitals, community hospitals and General Practitioners in West Dorset and adjoining areas. The department has modern facilities and employs medical, scientific and clerical staff.

Each laboratory is headed by medically qualified consultants who are available for advice and help with patient investigations, interpretation of results and discussion of clinical problems. The laboratories are staffed by qualified Biomedical Scientists (BMS) supported by Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLA).

Throughout the department the laboratories are committed to providing a rapid, reliable and, above all, quality service to the clinicians and their patients. To this end the laboratories participate in a variety of external quality assessment (EQA) schemes to monitor their performance against other hospital departments.

The Blood Sciences and Histopathology departments within Pathology have been accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service to ISO15189:2012: Medical laboratories - requirements for quality and competence. Please see the UKAS website for the full details of the accredited scope of practice for each department using the UKAS Customer Number: 10011 for Histopathology, or 8656 for Blood Sciences. All departments are approved by the Institute of Biomedical Scientists (IBMS) for the training of Biomedical Scientists (BMS).

The laboratories shares a fully computerised result storage and reporting system which can be accessed from terminals in hospitals throughout West Dorset. Many GP surgeries and hospital ward areas can also make electronic requests and receive results through software linked to the system.

Confidentiality is held with the highest regard in pathology and all information is processed in line with the NHS Confidentiality Code of Practice and Data Protection legislation.

Laboratory opening hours

Pathology Specimen Reception is open 9am - 9pm seven days a week.

Blood Sciences (Biochemistry, Haematology and Hospital Transfusion) is staffed 24 hours a day (but will sometimes be on skeleton staff).

The histopathology laboratory is open from 7am - 5.30pm Monday to Friday and is able to accept specimens until 5.15pm.

The microbiology laboratory is open 9am - 5.15pm Monday to Friday and 8am - 12pm on Saturdays (the on-call Biomedical Scientist or Consultant can be contacted outside of the normal hours via switchboard).

The bereavement services are open 10am - 4pm Monday to Friday.

The mortuary is open 10am - 3.30pm Monday to Friday (out of hours service is available for urgent requests via switchboard).

Additional information 

The best results are obtained when an appropriate, well taken specimen, in the proper container is delivered to the laboratory promptly and relevant clinical information is provided on the request form.

Please contact the laboratory if there is any doubt about the best specimen to take or concerning the availability of a test.

Measurement of uncertainty is available for quantitative results. Please contact the specific laboratory for further information.

‚ÄčEach request accepted by the department of pathology for examinations/tests is considered a service agreement.

Contact details

Paul Davies
Interim Pathology Services Manager 
01305 254344

Max Deighton
Pathology Governance and Quality Manager
01305 254326