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Microbiology

We offer a comprehensive range of tests including:

  • bacteriology
  • mycology
  • mycobacteriology
  • parasitology
  • molecular diagnostics.

Based at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, we also provide virology and serology services in conjunction with the Blood Science department.

Our team of consultant microbiologists, biomedical scientists and support staff carry out around 250,000 investigations per year.

What is medical microbiology?

It’s the study of micro-organisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.

The laboratory aspect of medical microbiology includes the diagnosis of infection caused by bacteria, fungi and parasites. We also identify the best treatment options for infection and monitor antibiotic resistance.

We also support the infection control team to help prevent hospital acquired infections, and screen for organisms such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

Our consultant microbiologists see patients and advise clinical and laboratory colleagues on the investigation and treatment of all types of infection.

What we do

Bacteriology investigations

We detect the presence or absence of bacterial infection from patient samples including urine, faeces and swabs. Our team grow, identify and test pathogenic bacteria against a number of antimicrobial agents to treat the infection.

Because the bacteria need to be grown on special culture media, it may take a number of days to produce laboratory results.

Mycology investigations

We detect the presence or absence of infection by fungi which include moulds and yeasts.

Like bacteria, fungi must grow on culture media and some moulds take several weeks to grow for laboratory identification.

We use mycology investigations to diagnose skin infections such as:

  • thrush
  • ringworm
  • athlete’s foot
  • infections of the lungs and other organs.

Parasitology investigations

These investigations detect the presence of parasites from the hair, skin, intestines or other body sites.

Clinicians either send suspected parasites to the laboratory, or samples that may contain parasites or eggs that we can detect by microscopic examination. We use parasitology investigations to diagnose infections or infestations including head and body lice, tapeworms and amoebae.

Molecular microbiology investigations

We can detect very small amounts of pathogenic bacterial or viral DNA (or RNA) present in clinical samples. These methods are very sensitive and fast compared to traditional methods but  currently limited to detecting a small number of bacteria and viruses.

We use molecular microbiology investigations to diagnose chlamydia, gonorrhoea influenza and Covid-19.

Laboratory accreditation

We participate and perform well in national external quality assurance schemes. We’re accredited for training with the Institute of Biomedical Science and registration with the Health Care Professions Council.

We’re undergoing accreditation to UKAS ISO 15189:2012 standards.

When we work

We do investigations from Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, weekends (and bank holidays) 8am to 4pm.

How long do results take?

They’re usually available in 24 to 48 hours.

We use external reference laboratories for specialist tests – results from these will take longer.

If you need information or advice about a particular investigation, contact us.

Contact
Contact

For enquiries, results or notification of urgent samples

01296 315321

For advice on diagnosis, interpreting microbiology results and antimicrobial use

01296 31322

Buc-tr.micro@nhs.net

Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm

Outside normal hours of service

Call the hospital switchboard (01296 315000) for urgent enquiries and samples.

Additional information

Please refer to our microbiology handbook.

Complaints procedure

We constantly look for opportunities to improve and update our service, and to learn from experience.

If you have any problems working with us, please tell us. We log all issues and refer them to a senior member of our team to investigate. This helps us to improve our processes.

You can also contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service if you want to make a complaint or raise an issue.