Public Health Laboratory

Opening Times

  • Monday (8.30am – 1pm)
    • Routine blood tests (first come first served basis)
  • Tuesday (8.30am – 3.30pm)
    • Warfarin Clinic only, no routine blood tests
  • Wednesday (8.30am – 1pm)
    • Routine blood tests (first come first served basis)
  • Thursday (8.30am – 4pm)
    • Maintenance / Blood tests (by appointment only)
  • Friday (8.30am – 1pm)
    • Routine blood tests (first come first served basis)

On-Call Services

The Laboratory runs a 24 hour service for emergencies outside of normal working hours.

Contact: 22500


The Pathology Department performs two major functions:

  • Provides a clinical service to the Medical Staff in order to diagnose, treat and monitor various illnesses and diseases
  • Provides Public Health diagnostic and surveillance services to the Environmental Health section and other stakeholders.

The St Helena Laboratory is a uniquely multidisciplinary unit and encompasses all of the following disciplines:

  • Blood Sciences
  • Cell Sciences
  • Infection Sciences
  • Phlebotomy


Tests which are very specialised, or not cost effective on St Helena are referred to off-shore laboratories. It is important that all specimens are accounted for, packed and transported appropriately. There is also the need to receive, record and distribute results to the doctor in a timely fashion in order that patients are treated promptly.

Public Health (Food, Water & Environment)

Our laboratory is equipped to carry out a range of specialist microbiological tests on food, water and environmental samples. This work provides essential support in, for example, the investigation of outbreaks of food poisoning or Legionnaires’ disease. Specialist testing can also be used to ensure the microbiological quality of food and water samples and to check on a regular basis that they are safe for human consumption.  Our laboratory works closely with Environmental Health colleagues to provide a comprehensive service to the local population.  The Food & Water laboratory is accredited through the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to ISO 17025.

The Health Directorate’s Public Health Laboratory can provide the following services:

  • Testing:  A wide range of accredited specialist microbiology tests on food, dairy, water and environmental samples.
  • Advice:  Expert advice concerning the threat to health from pathogens found in food, water and dairy products and how these can be tested for and controlled.
  • Training: Training to staff from external stakeholder organisations such as Local Authorities.
  • Evidence:  Results from tests and interpretation are used as evidence for prosecutions in food poisoning outbreaks.
  • Information: Results from public health investigations.  Local and national surveys provide authorities with a wide picture of changes which may affect public health such as effects of new food practices and effects of legislation.

Other agencies who use our services are:

  • Police Directorate – For analysing alcohol levels in cases of driving under the influence
  • Veterinary Department – Samples are analysed to diagnose diseases in various animals.
  • Connect Saint Helena – Water samples, treated and un-treated, are analysed on a weekly basis for microbiological content. Chemical testing is also carried out.
  • St Helena Fisheries Corporation – All fish which is sold is batch tested in the Public Health Laboratory. Chemical testing such as histamine is also carried out.

Quality Assurance

The clinical laboratory runs an internal quality assurance program. Reference materials with known values are purchased from appropriate companies. These reference materials are run daily with all laboratory machines to determine if the correct results are being produced. Only then are patient samples analysed. Tests which fall outside of reference ranges are recalibrated with specific calibration materials to ensure the quality of results.

Reference materials are also employed across other disciplines to ensure validity of results.  The Food and Water Laboratory also participates in an External Quality Assurance Scheme whereby samples are received and subsequently analysed on a monthly basis, for the complete range of pathogens.  Findings are submitted to Public Health England who in turn review these results, along with those from other participating labs and subsequently score the St Helena Laboratory against these.