Pathology services update - request to review samples sending

Pathology services are seeing significant staff shortages due to Covid-19 which is impacting their services, whilst they will do their best to maintain all services they will be prioritising acute work and this may lead to prolonged turnaround times on some non-urgent tests. 

For the microbiology and virology laboratory to continue to support clinical services over the coming weeks, as of 21 December 2021 the NHS East & South East London Pathology Partnership microbiology and virology laboratory services will cease to process any skin, hair or nail samples submitted for mycology.

In addition, they request that primary care colleagues, do not send the following samples, unless it is clinically imperative to do so:

  • Skin, hair and nail samples for investigation of dermatophyte infection
  • Urine samples from asymptomatic patients (except prior to urological procedures involving stone fragmentation). This includes “routine” catheter urine specimens and screening for asymptomatic bacteriuria in pregnancy (click here for the updated guidance from the UK National Screening Committee)
  • Genital swabs (except for Group B strep screening and STI testing)
  • Wound swabs from ulcers
  • Non-purulent sputum samples from immunocompetent patients
  • Non-bloody faecal samples from primary care
  • H. pylori antigen testing
  • Surveillance mycobacterial cultures from patients with cystic fibrosis
  • Multi-drug resistant screes from multiple body sites (send rectal swab only).

The service will continue to monitor the turn-around times of critical samples, and if these continue to increase then they will have to introduce further measure to manage demand. For further information and advice please email

Read more here.