Blood Spot Quality and Avoidable Repeats

A good quality blood spot sample is one that is taken at the right time, contains sufficient blood to perform all tests, is despatched to the laboratory in a timely manner and has not been contaminated.


Blood spot sampling film


A blood spot sampling film has been made to support midwives and other sample takers in obtaining good quality newborn blood spot samples. There are two versions - a full version (11 minutes) and a shorter version that highlights key messages (5 minutes).

To access these films visit:


Vital information required


All sections of the bloodspot card should be completed. The laboratory operates a strict zero tolerance policy for samples received with a missing or inaccurate NHS number, sample date or date of birth. Problems with these fields account for over half of all avoidable repeats; we strongly advise checking for transcription errors before sending cards to the laboratory.


Please ensure that the maternity unit code is always included on the bloodspot card to enable acknowledgement of card receipt, efficient collection of repeat cards and accurate reporting of avoidable repeat rates. Some maternity units have more than one code (e.g. for community midwives, neonatal units etc.).


To learn more about completing the bloodspot card visit:


Avoidable repeat statistics


Quarterly avoidable repeats statistics are distributed to generic maternity unit email addresses after approval by QA teams. The planned timescale for distribution of avoidable repeats data is listed below:



Time period

Distributed by


1st Apr - 30th Jun

31st Jul


1st Jul - 30th Sep

31st Oct


1st Oct - 31st Dec

31st Jan


1st Jan - 31st Mar

30th Apr


Avoidable repeats e-learning


An online learning module on blood spot sample quality is being developed by the NHS Newborn Blood Spot Screening Programme with the assistance of clinical and laboratory experts for use in England. The resource will enable practitioners to improve the quality of blood spot samples, understand why blood spot quality matters, the reasons why repeat samples are requested and reduce their avoidable repeat rates.


The avoidable repeats e-learning will be available from the following website by the end of November 2014:

© 2011 Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust