Login to South West London Pathology Services

If you have any queries about pathology consumables – you need a new account or you have a query about your order, please telephone 020 8266 6827. Forgotten your password

South West London Pathology develops an innovative solution for blood borne virus screening in the community setting

Blood borne viruses (BBVs) like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV are a serious public health concern, and with the advent of effective antiviral treatments for all three viruses, diagnostic tests that allow accurate and prompt detection and effective monitoring of these viruses are important contributors to patient management and wellbeing, and public safety.

South West London Pathology (SWLP) has developed an innovative solution to blood borne screening using capillary blood testing. The test has been developed by consultant virologist Dr David Carrington (St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) and biomedical scientists at SWLP and offers a number of advantages over the dried blood spot (DBS) testing method, which has traditionally been used to test for BBVs in the community setting.

It is particularly useful for those patients who are difficult to bleed and those patients attending outreach clinics were phlebotomy is not always available. The patient or healthcare assistant lances a finger-tip and collects 250 µL of capillary blood directly into a paediatric EDTA tube. They then recap and shake the tube to prevent clotting. The sample is stable for three days, although we recommend prompt delivery to SWLP to avoid sample degradation, which suports rapid testing and result turnaround.

The capillary blood test can detect HBsAg, HIV 1&2 anitgen/antibody and HCV antibody without loss of sensitivity or reduced specificity (compared to venepuncture samples) and in a  parallel work stream allows quantitative HCV RNA on all patient samples (although it is possible to substitute HCV RNA for HBV DNA or HIV RNA testing – lower limit of detection is ~500 iu/ml).  All positive HCV RNA samples undergo reflex HCV genotyping, which allows clinicians to select the most appropriate antiviral treatment combination.

The combination of both serological and molecular testing from one sample, on fully automated and verified equipment and assays, means that a further confirmatory test is usually unnecessary. The turnaround time for the test is four working days.

SWLP has been working closely with the Hepatitis C Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs), which are the new structures through which hepatitis C treatment is supplied in England. The Hepatitis C ODNs have used the new test in the opt-out testing at HMP Wandsworth and SWLP processes over 500 samples per month from this centre alone. The advantage of using this new type of test in this setting is that patients can be tested and, if positive, treated more quickly than using the dried blood spot test.

Dr Dan Forton, Consultant Hepatologist at St George’s Hospital, who leads the Hepatitis C OPN for south west London, says, “Provision of a CBT sample is straightforward and equivalent to, if not more simple, than a DBS sample. The sensitivity is equivalent to venous sampling – something which is not always true of DBS”.

SWLP Head of Operations Jamie Laughlin says, “The introduction of capillary blood testing for BBVs brings real advantages for patients and we are excited to be working with the Hepatitis C Operational Delivery Networks using the new methodology. We are already seeing an improvement in patient care in the speed with which patients can be diagnosed and treated appropriately.”

If you are interested in finding out more about this test or partnering with SWLP please email SWLPBusinessDevelopment@stgeorges.nhs.uk.

Latest news

July 1, 2022

Refurbished Immunology and ED laboratories at St George’s Hospital get official opening

This week, the newly refurbished Immunology and Emergency Department (ED) laboratories at St George’s Hospital were officially opened by Trust Managing Director Kate Slemeck and Chief Operating Officer Anne Brierley. A ribbon cutting was held at each laboratory and Kate and Anne were given a tour around the refurbished spaces by laboratory staff. The Immunology […]

Read more
June 24, 2022

HIV service at Croydon Hospital wins ‘Top Global Winner’ at the UNIVANTS awards

This week, it was announced that work to improve HIV outcomes at Croydon Hospital was awarded ‘Top Global Winner’ at the UNIVANTS 2021 awards. The work focused on the introduction of ‘opt-out’ HIV testing in the Emergency Department at Croydon Hospital, with a sustained rate of 97% over 18 months, setting an international gold standard. […]

Read more
June 20, 2022

Immunology services across south west London to be centralised at the Immunology Laboratory at St George’s Hospital

All Immunology services and tests are moving to the South West London Pathology (SWLP) Immunology Laboratory and Protein Reference Unit at St George’s Hospital, which will become the hub for immunology across south west London. Already one of the largest immunology services in the country, the team will be expanded further when immunology services and […]

Read more
May 16, 2022

Point of Care Testing (POCT) at St George’s gets first UKAS accreditation

Last month, the SWLP POCT team received the exciting news that after two years of hard work, the blood gas and glucose meter service at St George’s was given full UKAS accreditation. It is the largest and most complex POCT service in the country to receive full accreditation, which proved challenging for both the POCT […]

Read more