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Pathology - Laboratory services

Pathology is involved in over 70% of all diagnoses made in the NHS and the laboratory team at the James Paget contribute significantly on-site to biochemistry, haematology, blood transfusion and andrology (semenalysis).

Opening Times: Service provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Three of our laboratory staff - three women in white coats - two seated and one standing and all smiling - in front of several computer screens

In a recent survey, over two thirds of people thought that pathologists worked only with the dead, but while some pathologists do perform post mortem examinations many more work in laboratories, in clinics and on hospital wards to help with the diagnosis and treatment of patients. The professional scientists that perform these services are known as BioMedical Scientists (BMS). Every time a patient has a blood test, or a swab/sample taken for culture, a cervical smear or a lump removed, it’s a BMS who looks at the specimen or analyses it to work out if there is any disease present or not. 

Pathology is the study of disease and there are many different specialties within the field including chemical pathology – the study of the biochemical basis of disease, haematology – the study of disorders of the blood, histopathology – the study of disease in human tissue and medical microbiology/virology – the study of infection.

A man in a white coat sits in front of a computer in the foreground, with the rest of the lab area behind him, including colleagues looking at screens

Pathology services for Norfolk and Waveney are managed by Eastern Pathology Alliance (EPA), and, as well as the James Paget labs, they also provide services at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn.

You can find out more about the Eastern Pathology Alliance on their website here. 

EPA have centralised the majority of routine blood science pathology testing (biochemistry, haematology and immunology) at the NNUH, with facilities remaining at the James Paget and Queen Elizabeth hospitals to process laboratory tests for inpatients, including essential Blood Sciences (Biochemistry and Haematology), Blood Transfusion and Andrology services. Andrology is the medical specialty that deals with problems of the male reproductive system whether this be investigating male infertility or post vasectomy analysis.

The hub laboratories at NNUH provide additional services including Immunology & Endocrinology and Toxicology, and processes many specialist tests. They process all Community Pathology for Norfolk and Waveney and carry out all Microbiology work, however two Consultant Microbiologists are based at JPUH.

A woman in a white coat is seated and looking into the eyepieces of a large microscope, looking at a slide, with the rest of the lab behind her

Anticoagulation testing is provided on site at the James Paget, and there is also a specimen reception service for Microbiology and Histopathology samples. The on-site Blood Sciences and Blood Transfusion service at JPUH operates on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis. The Department holds full accreditation granted by Clinical pathology accreditation (UK) Ltd (CPA) and Blood Transfusion is compliant with the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations 2005 by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). As part of EPA the laboratory is working towards compliance with ISO 15189.

The Clinical Biochemistry section undertakes a wide range of biochemical analyses on blood, urine, faeces, cerebrospinal fluid, calculi etc. Many of the investigations are grouped into profiles in order to provide better differential diagnostic and prognostic information to clinical staff. The laboratory provides more than a hundred different test procedures to assist clinical staff with the diagnosis and treatment of patients. The test profiles are designed to provide data and information on specific organs or conditions, e.g. renal profile, liver function test, cardiac enzymes, glucose tolerance test, drug screen etc.

A laboratory testing machine with glass vials alongside it

During normal working hours, between 9am and 4.45pm, routine general chemistry and haematology tests are run continuously throughout the day with results normally available in under three hours of receipt. The laboratory is however open to process samples 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

Microbiology samples are forwarded to the EPA laboratory at NNUH from specimen reception in JPUH. The workload consists of routine culture for bacteria and their antibiotic susceptibility, MRSA screening, the detection of viral and chlamydial infections, identification of parasites, serological and virological investigations and infection control testing.

The ‘Departments’ pages on the EPA website contain information about JPUH services.

To read more please visit