Rapid identification of bacteria isolated from blood cultures by direct matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is now in wide spread use in major centres but is not yet feasible in smaller hospital laboratories. A FilmArray multiplex PCR panel for blood culture isolate identification (BCID) provides an alternative approach to near point-of-care microbial identification in regional hospitals. We assessed the accuracy and time to identification of the BCID FilmArray in a consecutive series of 149 blood cultures from 143 patients in a teaching hospital and smaller regional hospitals, currently identified by direct MALDI-TOF and proprietary molecular methods. The BCID FilmArray contained 18 of 34 species and 20 of 23 species isolated from teaching and regional hospital, respectively. Overall, 85 % of the teaching hospital and 100 % of the regional hospital monomicrobial blood cultures were identified, compared with 60 and 68 %, respectively, for direct MALDI-TOF on the same cultures. There were no incorrect results from blood cultures containing Staphylococcus aureus, streptococci, Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Enterobacteriaceae. The three discrepant results were all in mixed cultures. The mean reduction in time to identification of blood culture isolates was 53 h, which did not include the time required to transport cultures from regional centres to a central laboratory. The overall performance of the BCID FilmArray is stronger in blood cultures from smaller regional hospitals that encounter a narrower range of bacterial species dominated by the commonest species. This approach is more suited to smaller clinical laboratories than the MALDI-TOF direct method.