Changes to microbiology swabs

July 18th 2018

The microbiology department have now implemented Copan liquid swabs for wounds/genital and MRSA/orthopaedic screens. The principle of the swabs is no different to the previous swabs.

As of 1 June 2018 pink topped Copan liquid swabs have replaced the purple topped MWE liquid swabs used for wounds and genital sites for culture and sensitivity. The MRSA and orthopaedic screens have remained as white topped dual swabs - only the manufacturer information on the container is different.

The laboratory will continue to accept the MWE liquid swabs until all stock has been used. Locations requesting stock will now receive the Copan swabs.

We would be grateful if you could please disseminate this information to all staff involved in sample collection and stock control. If you have any queries or require further information please contact Debra Jackson, senior biomedical scientist on 0191 293 2528,

New programme for patients with hip and knee pain

July 18th 2018

We have introduced a new advice and exercise programme within our physiotherapy service called Escape Pain. This is for patients registered with a North Tyneside GP, and who have suffered hip or knee pain for more than six months.

It is an advice and exercise programme, delivered in partnership with Age UK North Tyneside and Sport England, which aims to help patients better self-manage their pain and increase their tolerance to exercise.

Patients attend twelve education and exercise classes, twice a week for six weeks taught by rehabilitation instructors. These are held across community venues in North Tyneside.

Patients must meet the following criteria for referral:

- Currently exercise less than 30 minutes per week

- Aged 45 years or older

- Chronic hip or knee pain for at least six months

- Needing a supervised exercise programme

- Independently mobile and able to carry out regular exercise

- Available to attend classes for six weeks

Patients with the following are not eligible for referral:

- Unstable angina

- Systolic blood pressure >180 and/or diastolic blood pressure >100

- BP drop >20mm Hg demonstrated during ETT

- Resting tachycardia >100bpm

- Uncontrolled atrial or ventricular arrhythmias

- Unstable or acute heart failure

- Unstable diabetes

- Febrile illness


f you have a patient who you feel would benefit, you can refer in using the registration form (under useful forms) and email to

Referrals are processed by Age UK and patients are seen by our physiotherapists.

If you have any queries please contact Angela Larkin, clinical lead for MSK physiotherapy – / 0191 293 4064.

Using e-Referrals for urgent (two week wait) referrals

July 18th 2018

In line with the national directives from NHSE, we were declared paper free in terms of routine and two week wait GP to consultant-led outpatient service referrals as of 1 April 2018. Thank you for all your support in achieving this.

The final stage of this process is to facilitate the receipt of all urgent (non two week wait) referrals via the NHS e-Referral service as per CQUIN SC6.2A.

As of the beginning of this month (July 2018), we will not accept paper referrals with a priority of urgent unless the patient needs to be seen on the same day or in a small number of excluded services detailed within NHS England’s guidance for managing referrals. This guidance, including details of the CQUIN and nationally agreed exclusions can be found on the NHS England website here.

All RMS and Consultant First referral management services for Northumbria Healthcare now accept both routine and urgent priorities – please use these services to submit referrals. Our standard for reviewing referrals is two working days but if you are making an urgent referral you may wish to contact us on 0191 203 1256 to ensure that the patient is seen within an acceptable timescale. However, we do check all directly booked urgent referrals and will rebook where appropriate.

For further information on the e-Referral system and clinic set up, or more details on excluded services, please contact Diane Williams, e-Referral lead - 0191 203 1256.

Can you please ensure that this information is cascaded to all GPs within your practice.

Biochemistry laboratory update - Changes to Roche Cortisol Assay

June 25th 2018

We have been informed by Roche that the current serum cortisol method is being replaced by a new assay (Roche Gen II kit). The new assay has been re-standardised to give similar results to those using tandem mass Spectrometry and therefore closer to the 'true' cortisol value.

Please note there will be a difference in values between the current and new cortisol methods. Values on the new assay are on average 22% lower than values on the current assay. We intend to introduce this method this week (beginning Monday 25 June), all Roche Gen II kit cortisol results will be reported with an automatic comment to indicate they have been analysed with this changed method.

To assist in the assessment of adrenal sufficiency with early morning cortisol (around 9am) results the following comments will be added to the report:

Serum Cortisol/nmol/L Comment on report


For early morning (9am) sample: Adrenal insufficiency unlikely.

When using the Roche Gen II kit to measure cortisol during a short synacthen test, an adequate peak response would be a cortisol value of greater than 420nmol/L.

The post overnight dexamethasone suppression cut off will remain unchanged at