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Some pathogens are notifiable, and information will be disclosed to relevant external authorities, such as public health teams, and stored in secure databases.

While several hundred laboratory tests are performed on site, for some rare or complex tests patient specimens may be sent to specialist laboratories elsewhere which have the necessary expertise. In some cases there will be only one specialist laboratory in the whole country which performs a particular test, meaning using referral laboratories is essential.

There is a detailed policy in place to govern how we choose these referral laboratories. They are selected for their expertise and their quality standards. We regularly check their accreditation status, which gives us assurance that they have procedures in place for the protection of information.

We also have specialist laboratories within the DLM and we receive specimens from around the country. Therefore our laboratories have procedures in place for the protection of information.

When specimens are sent to a referral laboratory we need to send some ‘patient identifiers’ such as name and date of birth. In some tests it is essential to send further information, for example, symptoms or travel information, to allow the referral laboratory to interpret the results for the individual patient. In some tests ethnic origin and family details may need to be shared with the referral laboratory.

Consent to a specimen being taken and analysed is implied by the patient presenting to the point of specimen collection. The responsibility for obtaining informed consent for the test(s) resides with the individual ordering the test. Informed consent should cover all the tests being done, implications of their results and disclosure of clinical and personal details to personnel (in the requesting organisation and any other healthcare organisations involved in providing the test).

Laboratory policy on protection of personal information

The laboratory adheres to Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust’s policies on data protection and disclosure. The following policy can be found on the Trust intranet site:

Confidentiality Code of Conduct and Information Disclosure Policy ON4-3437.

Further information for patients can be found at Information for patients.


(Last reviewed November 2023)