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Haematology, Blood Transfusion and Immunology

This page was last updated: May 9th, 2022

The Haematology, Blood Transfusion and Immunology department provides a high quality analytical service and clinical advice. We receive in excess of 519,000 specimens per year, on which we perform over 799,000 tests. The service is consultant-led with 70 medical, scientific and support staff and comprises four sections:

  • Haematology
  • Coagulation
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Immunology (provided via referral to Derriford Hospital)

Opening times

  • Monday to Friday: 09:00 to 20:00
  • Saturday: 09:00 to 13:00*

*The Saturday/Sunday/Bank Holiday service offered by all departments is intended for essential work.

Out of hours

Urgent work will be processed at any time. The Biomedical Scientist (BMS) on call for each department may be contacted through the RCHT Hospital switchboard (01872 250000).

Please phone the laboratory if results are needed immediately or for blood products that are needed urgently.

Outside core hours (09:00-17:30) please bleep 3220 for transfusion only.

Out of hours, do not bleep the BMS unless very urgent or for a cross match/blood product issue, or advice.

Routine Haematology

The routine Haematology service analyses samples, which includes the following:

  • Full Blood Count (FBC) + film in exceptional cases (eg Malaria)
  • Infectious Mononucleosis (IM) Screen
  • Sickle Screen, examination of blood and bone marrow
  • Haemostasis
  • Thrombophilia investigations
  • Antenatal Sickle cell and Thalassemia screening


The Coagulation service includes testing for basic coagulation screen.


The Andrology service includes semen testing.

Blood Transfusion

The Blood Transfusion department offers:

  • Blood grouping
  • Patient Blood Management
  • Antibody screening (including antenatal)
  • Antibody identification
  • Cross matching
  • Blood product/component

Each year, we supply around 16,000 units of red blood cells, as well as platelets, plasma and other blood products, to patients at both the Royal Cornwall Hospitals and the Community Hospitals in Cornwall.

Safety for Blood Transfusions

In the UK, we have rigorous regulations regarding blood donations and blood transfusions to minimise the risk of being given blood that is contaminated with a virus, or from an unsuitable blood group. Compared to other everyday risks, the likelihood of getting an infection from a blood transfusion is very low. All blood donors are unpaid volunteers and they’re very carefully selected and tested to make sure that the blood they donate is as safe as possible.

If you’re going to have a blood transfusion, we’ll ask you to wear an identification band with your details on to make sure you get the right transfusion. We’ll check this each time you receive a new bag of blood, and we’ll also ask you your full name and date of birth to double check.

Further information about Blood Transfusions

If your doctor suggests you need a blood transfusion, you can find more information on the NHS Blood and Transplant website.

If you have recently had a transfusion and feel unwell, please read our patient information leaflet and get in touch with your doctor.

Immunology (provided via referral to Derriford Hospital)

The immunology service based at Derriford offers testing to investigate disorders of the immune system, including:

  • Autoimmune diseases – systemic lupus erythematous, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s disease and myasthenia gravis
  • Allergic diseases – hay fever, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, allergic asthma, and anaphylaxis
  • Immunodeficiency – Chronic granulomatous disease
  • Hypersensitivities – Asthma
  • Other disease such as AIDS and HIV

Key Haematology, Blood Transfusion and Immunology Contacts

Head of Department

Dr Adam Forbes (Consultant Haematologist)
01872 252765

Lead Biomedical Scientist for Haematology (Interim)

Susan Oates
01872 252507

Lead Biomedical Scientist for Blood Transfusion

Dr Ian Sullivan
01872 252500

More information about Haematology, Blood Transfusion and Immunology

Respective add on testing

Specimens are retained in Haematology under appropriate storage for up to 3 days. It is possible to ask for tests to be added to samples already received provided the analyte required is sufficiently stable.

When an add-on test has been requested but testing not possible this will be reported. Within RCH the original MAXIMs form should be printed (do NOT create a new MAXIMs request), the add-on test hand written on and the form sent to the laboratory.

Blood transfusion

All patients requiring transfusion in the Haematology out-patient department should be referred through a consultant Haematologist with full documentation of medical and drug histories. The patient will only be seen by the Haematologists if this is requested within the referral. Any patient who is bed-bound or unable to attend to their own toileting should be referred as an in-patient.

Samples for group & screen/cross match are valid for a maximum of 7 days; however, this is affected by the patient’s transfusion and obstetric history. Regularly transfused patients may need samples taken more frequently – please contact the laboratory on ext. 2500 if you are unsure. Advice is also available on the reverse of the request form.

Wherever possible, the cause of anaemia should be investigated and where a reversible cause is identified, this should be corrected before resorting to transfusion

Antenatal testing: Screening should test all mothers twice in pregnancy, at booking and a second time in the 28th week of gestation for ABO and Rh (D) groups and antibody screening. If any further testing is required as a result of these tests, a report will be issued suggesting appropriate follow-up tests and their timing.

All Rh (D) negative mothers, who do not have immune anti-D, should be offered anti-D prophylaxis. This is an essential part of the management of Rh (D) negative women. A standard dose of 1500iu should be administered at 28 weeks gestation after the samples for the routine screen have been taken and after any potentially sensitising event.

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