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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

Cellular sciences


Key Contact Details

Location of Cytology

The laboratory is located in the Orange zone of the main hospital building on the 1st floor; beside microbiology.

Services Provided

The cytology department provides a number of non-gynaecological cytology diagnostic services and ancillary tests.

The non-gynae service assists in clinical sample collection and Rapid on Site Evaluation and aims to provide a diagnostic report within the following turnaround targets:

80% of all requests within 7 days

90% of all requests within 10 days

Please use the contact details to arrange for cytology assistance within the hospital.

The laboratory is currently UKAS ISO15189 and has been approved by the IBMS as a training laboratory in the pre-registration of Biomedical Scientists.

Gynae Cytology

In 2016, the UK National Screening Committee recommended that the HPV test should replace cytology as the first (primary) test in cervical screening and by December 2019 primary HPV has fully rolled out across England. Commencing from the 25th November 2019 onwards, all local cervical screening HPV samples are processed at Berkshire and Surrey pathology services at the St. Peters hospital, Chertsey site. All enquiries can be made via 01932 726622 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Opening Times

Monday - Friday 08:00-17:00

Out of Hours Service

The laboratory does not provide an out of hours service.

Samples taken out of hours should be refrigerated on the ward and submitted to the lab during opening hours

Sample collection

Please ensure the correct sample container is used for the collection of all cytology samples. A separate sample should be collected for cytology analysis and not added to another sample request for biochemistry or microbiology.

Samples Taken at or Sent to Poole Hospital

The cytology laboratory at Poole hospital now processes all Diagnostic Cytology samples for UHD. All samples need to be clearly labelled and forwarded to the pathology department for dispatch and processing

The department examines a variety of samples including sputa, urines, fluids and fine needle aspiration samples. To avoid delay in processing please use blue non gynae cytology request forms available from the laboratory.

Forms must be properly completed or requests will be returned to the originator.

Fine needle aspiration - Tips for getting a fast, efficient service

Please write the telephone number/Bleep on the request form so we can phone the surgeon with the diagnosis.

The ideal specimen consists of one air dried slide, one wet fixed slide and a needle washing collected into cytolyt solution.

Sputum Cytology

Sputum cytology is only indicated in patients who are not fit for bronchoscopy

Three pre-breakfast samples should be taken on consecutive days and sent fresh to the laboratory

Please label with surname, forename, NHS or registration number and date of birth.

Urine Cytology

30ml of Sample should be collected mid-morning and taken from the initial stream to maximise cell yield

Must NOT be mid-stream urines

Must NOT be mid-stream urines

Place in plain sterile pots and sent fresh to the laboratory

DO NOT send in boric acid as these cannot be processed on our equipment.

Label with surname, forename, NHS or registration number and date of birth

Cerebral spinal Fluid

Ensure sample is split for flow cytometry (The link to the correct form is located below)

Use a small universal container and send to the laboratory as soon as possible after collection to prevent cell degradation

Ensure sample arrives by 4pm or give prior notification to laboratory if it will be after hours

Label with surname, forename, NHS or registration number and date of birth.

Other Fluids (breast cyst fluids, pleural fluids, ascitic fluid etc)

All other fluids for cytology should be put in a small universal and sent to the laboratory with a request form.

Ideally the sample should be over 50ml to allow for further testing however the laboratory will not accept quantities of fluid greater than 200 ml

Label with surname, forename, NHS or registration number and date of birth.

Fine Needle Aspirates

Submitted to the laboratory as prepared slides

The patient's surname, plus any two of the following: hospital number, NHS number, forename, date of birth must be printed on the frosted end of the glass side using lead pencil

If the sample is from the breast, the side ie ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ must also be written, in full, on the form and (L or R), initial only may be used on slides

For any bilateral organ the side (left or right) and area (upper, middle, lower) from which the sample has been taken should be identified in this way

Bronchial Brushings

Submit to the laboratory as prepared slides fixed in alcohol or spray fixed or entire brush head (including 4-5 cm sheathing) cut off into CytoLyt solution

Patient's surname, plus any two of the following: hospital number, NHS number, forename, date of birth must be printed on the frosted end of the glass side using lead pencil

Breast Implant fluid suspicious of BI-ALCL

Please note very important: Two samples need to be taken; One for Cytology and one for RBH Molecular Biology. Please stick to the time scale detailed below as the accuracy of flow cytometry is unknown on specimens after 24 hours.

If the specimen is taken at Poole Hospital: the sample must reach the lab before 13:00 in order to be put on van for RBH.

If the specimen is taken at Bournemouth Hospital: Samples MUST reach molecular biology by 2pm

For the Molecular Biology sample: 20mls in standard white top universal container

Send with a molecular biology form for flow cytometry (SIHMDS form) with the following clinical details on form.

Suspected BI-ALCL

For the Cytology sample: 20ml in standard white top universal cytology container

Send with a cytology form with the following clinical details

Other Brushings

These are collected into a Cytolyt. Please ensure vial is within date and labeling guidelines are followed. Please contact the laboratory for any assistance tel ext 2793

Risk of Infection

CJD/vCJD - For all suspected/diagnosed CJD/vCJD specimens please refer to the Trusts CJD Policy

Tuberculosis - For all suspected/diagnosed Tuberculosis specimens please refer to the Trusts Tuberculosis Policy

SARS-COV-2- For all suspected/diagnosed COVID specimens please write on front of form


Key Contact Details

Location of Histology

The laboratory is situated in the orange zone level 1 next to the microbiology department; ring the bell in microbiology recepton (located on the left hand side on the wall) for assistance.

Opening Times

The laboratory is staffed by BMS on rotation with Bournemouth and MLA's between the hours of:

Monday - Friday: 08:15-17:00

Weekend/Bank Holiday: Closed

Out of Hours: By prior arrangement

If no-one is available, please direct any enquiries to the Histology secretaries (2211) or the Cytology Department (2793).

The secretarial offices hours are:

Monday - Friday: 08:00-17:00

Weekend/Bank Holiday: Closed

There is currently no out of hours service for Poole.

Request Form Completion

All samples for Histological examination should arrive with an appropriately signed request form and clearly labelled sample pot with a maximum of four samples per request form. Left and Right samples also need to be on separate request forms.

They need to contain:

  • Patient's Surname - Hospital and GP samples
  • Patient's Forname - Hospital and GP samples
  • Date of Birth - Hospital and GP samples
  • Hospital Number - Hospital samples
  • Source - Hospital and GP samples
  • Consultant and or GP - Hospital and GP samples
  • Specimen Type/Site - Hospital and GP samples
  • Clinical Details - Hospital and GP samples

Any form or sample that does not match or fails to reach the above criteria will be error logged and returned to source for completion

Incomplete information will delay results.

Frozen Section Requests

It is important that frozen sections are booked with a minimum of 24 hours advance notice where possible. This is to ensure that technical and pathologist staff are available to process and report the sample when it arrives.

To book a frozen section call or e-mail the laboratory or the histology office;(extensions 8081, 2211 or 2283).

Alternatively email requests to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Information required includes:

  • Patient's name
  • Hospital number
  • Date of Birth
  • Tissue sample type
  • Requesting Consultant
  • Date and approximate time expected in the laboratory (needed to ensure Pathologist available)
  • Theatre number and Extension

For any samples out of laboratory hours, requests may be accommodated if prior notice is given to allow for arrangement of adequate availability of Pathologist and Technical staff. In an emergency a Pathologist may be contacted via the switchboard.

Guidelines for Specific Sample Types

The majority of samples are received in the laboratory at room temperature in 10% Neutral buffered Formalin at least 10-15 times greater than tissue volume to ensure adequate fixation. Fixation is a chemical process, and at least 24 hours is needed for the process to complete. Although "over fixation" can be detrimental, under-fixation can be a significant problem and may be responsible for inappropriate results. Samples in formalin should not be placed into the fridge as this slows the chemical process of fixation and will affect the interpretation of results

Certain samples require a deviation from this standard approach which includes:

Fresh Lymph node: Fresh

Samples for Referral for Genetic Studies: Fresh

Samples for T Cell Gene Rearrangement: Fresh or Normal Saline

Muscle Biopsies: Fresh

Skin samples for Immunoflourecense: Michel's fluid

Renal biopsies for Glomerulonephritis: Fresh

Tissue for sensitive disposal (RPOC's): Formalin with consent form

Fresh Lymph Node

Samples are sent dry straight to the laboratory and staff informed immediately. If no staff available during working hours please take to cytology department. Any sample taken out of routine hours must be fixed in conventional way.

Referral for genetic studies

These include samples of skin, placenta, cord and RPOC for various genetic tests.


All specimens must be put in dry containers, or in transport media (supplied by Wessex regional Genetics Laboratory, Salisbury) correctly sealed and ideally sent to the laboratory the next working day. If there is a delay, store at 4°C.

Referrals for T cell Gene Rearrangement

These skin samples must be sent in NORMAL SALINE to the laboratory as soon as possible. If out of hours please store at 4°C and send as soon as possible. Ideally, the lab should be given notice from the requesting clinician when fresh specimens for TCR analysis are being sent. Fresh specimens should not be sent to the PGH lab after midday on Fridays as it cannot be guaranteed that staff will be present to receive/store specimen appropriately over the weekend.

Muscle Biopsies

Please inform secretarial staff at least three days prior to removal. All samples must be received fresh and sent to the laboratory straight away. The type of investigation required, whether morphological or myopathic disorder must be clearly written on the request form. The majority of these samples will be referred to Southampton.

Skin Samples for Immunoflourecense.

These samples need to be sent to the laboratory as soon as possible in Michel's fluid or transport medium. Please contact Immunology laboratory for sample containers at least three days in advance. (Refer to link Specimen requirements) If out of hours please store at 4°C and send the next day.

Renal biopsies for Glomerulonephritis

These need to be sent fresh to the laboratory as soon as possible or sent direct to Southampton Hospital Neuropathology department for Electron Microscopy.

Tissue for Sensitive Disposal (RPOC)

Products of conception (POC) specimens that require cremation after processing need to be accompanied by a cremation consent form entitled 'Sensitive disposal of foetal remains' form. The legislation surrounding this is very stringent, and the forms need to be signed and completed with care. The processing of these samples will be delayed until the consent has been received and if no consent form is received with the sample, it will be returned to source.

Identification of High Risk Samples

All samples received fresh or in formalin are regarded as potential high risk. Samples known to be high risk from patients with Hepatitis B, C, HIV and TB must clearly be marked on the request and sample as HIGH RISK and identified with a yellow "danger of infection" label.

CJD/vCJD - For all suspected/diagnosed CJD/vCJD specimens please refer to the Trusts CJD Policy

Specimen Transport

Containers of formalin should be securely closed wrapped in the absorbent pad and placed with the request form into the clear transport bag and sealed by person taking the sample. Formaldehyde vapour is a well-recognized respiratory irritant, and skin contact with formalin solution should be avoided, as repeated exposure may cause dermatitis in some individuals. Samples are collected twice daily from within the hospital by the portering service and GP samples are collected on a daily basis by Dorset Ambulance Trust. Samples from the Harbour Hospital are delivered via their portering staff. Urgent samples can be brought direct to the laboratory, if no staff are available please take to cytology department.

Referral of Samples

We occasionally require expert or secondary opinion on more complex samples these are referred to:

Referral ExpertReferral InstitutionRepertoireAnticipated Turnaround (Days)
Dr F Ross Salisbury Cytogenetics Lymphoma 21
Dr J Theaker Southampton Salivary, Oral, Skin 21
Dr L Hodges Southampton PCR, TCR gene rearrangement 21
Dr R Aurora UCL Advanced Diagnostics EGFR testing 21
Prof N Shepherd Cheltenham General Hospital GI 21
Dr A Bateman Southampton GI 21
test test test 21
Dr A Flanagan Royal national Orthopaedic Bone 21
Prof A Nicholson Royal Brompton Lung 21
Dr E Calonje St John’s Institute of Dermatology Skin 21
Prof C Fisher Royal Marsden Hospital Soft tissue 21
Prof S Hubscher Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham Hepatic, Biliary & Pancreatic Malignancy 21
Dr L Hirschowitz Birmingham Women’s Hospital Gynae 21
Prof McGluggage Belfast Gynae 21
Prof N Sebire Charing Cross Hospital Hydatidiform moles 21
Prof P Speight Sheffield Oral 21
Prof Stephenson Royal Hallamshire Hospital Breast, GI tract, endocrine 21
Prof S Pinder Guy’s & Thomas’ Hospital Breast 21
Dr S Johnson Newcastle-upon-Tyne NHS Endocrine 21
Dr N Singh Royal London Hospital Gynae 21

Availability of results

For patient confidentiality we need to establish the caller's identity before giving results over the telephone. We are unable to give results directly to patients or their relatives. In general, results are not available on EPR until they have been authorized by the reporting Consultant Histopathologist. In exceptional circumstances preliminary results may be available directly from the Consultant Histopathologist.

The time taken for a result to be available varies depending upon the type, size and complexity of the specimen and whether a referral is required. These are available to view via EPR only for GP's, for requesting Consultants a paper report is also sent. More rapid processing of very urgent small specimens can be arranged following discussion with the appropriate pathologist.

Department Reporting Times

The Department has decided to adopt the creation of a 4-category division of work that is clinically prioritized.

Specimens are categorised into 4 streams of work (A, B, C, D) This involves Category A being the most clinically urgent, through to category D, the least clinically urgent.

It is therefore important that the clinical details provided are as accurate as possible in order that specimens can be categorised appropriately for reporting. This should ensure that high priority cases, for example suspected cancers, are reported promptly.

We aim to maintain our reporting times within the follow turnaround time targets;

  • 80 % of all specimens shall be reported within 18 days
  • 90 % of all specimens shall be reported within 22 days

Occasionally more complex samples will need to be referred for expert opinion and these may take longer.

Complaints Procedure

If you feel the service provided by the laboratory falls short of addressing the needs of the patient, please use the hospital complaint policy:

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