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Cervical screening samples

Details on sample acceptance policy, urgent samples, packaging, transport and tracking.


Sample acceptance policy

CSL accepts samples based on the national acceptance policy. For further information regarding sample acceptance policy, including the minimum labelling criteria, please refer to: accepting-samples-in-laboratories

  • All vials must be labeled with a minimum of three identifiers.
  • This must include the individual's last name in all circumstances.
  • All cervical sample takers sending samples to CSL must have a LonCSTD PIN. Contact for further information.

Failure to comply with the sample acceptance policy will result in the rejection of samples.

For request form information, please see Cervical Screening Requests.


Factors known to significantly affect the performance of the examination or the interpretation of results

  • Only Hologic ThinPrep vials must be used
  • The head of the cervical broom MUST NOT be left in the vial
  • Lubricants should not be used, as these will affect the quality of the sample


Ordering supplies for CSL (NHS samples)

Practices and clinics can order supplies (ThinPrep vials, brooms, supply bags and bar code labels) via our easy-to-use online order page at:

Please do not try to order supplies via telephone or email.

Supplies will be delivered by ParcelForce; please allow 5 days for delivery.

For queries about sample taker supplies, please contact: or phone 020 7307 9440.


Sample packaging

Check each sample is correctly labelled with full name, DOB, NHS/Hospital number and date of collection.

Ensure the matching request has all the necessary demographic, clinical and screening history information required for testing. Current cervical screening sample rejection criteria still apply. Unlabeled or partially labelled vials and samples with discrepancies identified between the information on the vial label and form will be rejected.

Place each vial and request form (if paper request being used) in an individual small clear sample bags. The vial goes in the sealable section, and the form in the pocket at the front. The individually packaged cervical screening samples should then be placed in the large purple CSL transport bags. Seal the bag using the self-adhesive strip.

Sample transport: Courier collection

TDL Collect is the name of the specialist pathology transport division servicing HSL, TDL and CSL referrers. Your cervical screening samples will be picked up by a TDL Collect courier and brought to our central London laboratory.

TDL Collect couriers can be contacted at: cc:
T: 020 7307 7373

Practices collecting high volumes of cervical screening samples will have daily pick-ups.

Lower volume surgeries will have a TDL Collect courier call every second workday – Monday, Wednesday, Friday one week, and Tuesday, Thursday the next week.

Please note:

  • Cervical samples are collected directly form clinics/surgeries/practices across London.
  • Sample takers and receptionists are reminded that a number of different pathology providers may collect samples from the same location.
  • It is the responsibility of the sender to ensure the CSL purple bags are available at the designated collection point.
  • CSL cannot accept responsibility for samples that enter the wrong sample pathway and may result in the individual requiring a repeat test and delayed management.
  • Histopathological samples received in error will be repatriated to the correct location.
  • All other samples should be repeated as delay caused by unnecessary transit to the CSL laboratory adversely impacts the sample stability.


Sample tracking

All practices and hospital clinics will have been provided with a card with a barcode identifying your location as shown below. This card should be firmly fixed to a bench or wall in the area where the purple sample transport bags will be placed for pick-up by the courier.

Always attach one of the barcode labels from the roll to the outside of each purple bag in the box marked ‘Place Barcode Label Here’. Place the barcode-labelled purple bag near the practice identification barcode you have fixed to the bench or wall in the place designated for pick-up by the TDL Collect courier.

The courier will scan the practice identification barcode on the bench and then the barcode on the sample transport bag to log the pick-up of a cervical screening transport bag containing the samples from your location.

Important: never place other pathology samples in the CSL purple transport bags.