We use cookies to help us improve the website and your experience using it. You may delete and block all cookies from this site at any time. However, please note this may result in parts of the site no longer working correctly. If you continue without changing your settings we will assume you are happy to receive all cookies on this site.


Sample collection

Samples for newborn screening should be collected on day 5 (where date of birth is day 0), unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Care should be taken to ensure that the filter paper card has not exceeded the expiry date printed. At least 4 blood spots, the size of the guide circles on the card, should be collected. See the guidelines for newborn blood spot sampling

Samples with the following problems will be rejected and a repeat sample requested: collected <5 days, collected within 72 hours of a transfusion, insufficient sample (too small/not soaked through), incorrect blood application (multi-spotted/spotted both sides), compressed/damaged, possible faecal contamination (CF), missing/invalid NHS number, missing/invalid date of sample/date of birth, expired card, >14 days in transit or damaged in transit.

A repeat sample from the avoidable repeat category must be taken within three calendar days of receipt of request.

When completing the blood spot card, please write the Trust code for your maternity unit/neonatal unit in the PCT field on the blood spot card to improve the accuracy of the figures.

A list of Trust codes is provided in the table below. Alternatively maternity units could stamp cards with the code prior to issuing to midwives/neonatal units, depending on local arrangements. It would also be helpful if health visitors could write 'HV' in the PCT field, so that we can provide data specific to health visitors.

Code Trust name
RXL Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
RMC Bolton NHS Foundation Trust
RW3 Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
RXR East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
RXN Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
RW6 Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
RVY Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals NHS Trust
RWJ Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
RMP Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
RM2 University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust
RTX University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
RRF Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust


Tips to help avoid rejection of samples:

  • Collect sample on day 5 (date of birth is day 0)
  • Check the expiry date on the card
  • Wash the baby's heel with water to reduce the risk of a contaminated IRT result
  • Ensure that blood spots are the size of the guide circles on the card
  • Allow the blood to drop onto the card rather than touching the filter paper to the baby's heel
  • Some brands of lancet device are more effective than others
  • Extra blood spots, in addition to the 4 indicated by the guide circles, can be collected elsewhere on the card
  • Repeat the test at the same visit if the spots are too small or have not soaked through to the back of the card
  • Make sure there is a valid NHS number on the card