Microbiology

Our Microbiology laboratories provide a 24-hour quality diagnostic, interpretative and clinical service, including comprehensive bacteriological and virological diagnostic services for GPs and hospital clinicians.

Our experienced medical and scientific staff are able to give advice on a wide range of microbiological matters such as diagnosis and management of infections and communicable diseases, antibiotic information and infection control.

We work closely with the infection control specialist nurses to provide a comprehensive control of infection service for our hospitals and associated community services.

The latest information for disease-based tests can be viewed on the Public Health England website (opens in a new window).

Contact details

Tel: 020 8296 2468

Location and opening hours

Location 
First floor, D Block, St Helier Hospital. Samples should be delivered to Pathology Specimen Reception at either St Helier Hospital or Epsom Hospital.

Opening hours
Monday - Friday 8.30am - 6pm. The lab is also open Saturdays from 8.30am - 12.30pm for urgent samples only.

Urgent samples
Please inform the laboratory prior to sending the sample on 2527 (internal) or 020 8296 2468 (external). 

Key staff

  • Dr Jim Stephenson, Consultant Microbiologist and Joint Head of Department
  • Dr Justin Bendig, Consultant Microbiologist and Joint Head of Department
  • Dr John P Clark, Consultant Microbiologist, Director of Clinical Services
  • Dr Jayakeerthi Rangaiah, Consultant Microbiologist and Infection Control Lead
  • Gail Carroll, Lead Biomedical Scientist, Bacteriology
  • Dawn Andrew, Lead Biomedical Scientist, Virology
  • Girish Patel, Microbiology Service Manager

Turn Around Times (TAT)

The turn around time is defined as the period from the receipt and booking in of a specimen to the time the report is issued to the individual requesting the test.

We hope for a 28 day turnaround from sending of a sample to another reference laboratory to receiving a result and reporting it on our computer system.

Please note that samples which require multiple tests may take longer than the stated turnaround time.

Virology

Our virology laboratory carries out a wide range of both routine and specialist tests, including hepatitis and HIV testing.

We are always happy to advise on appropriate samples and how they should be collected/sent. It is always helpful to the laboratory to know in advance of any urgent or precious samples being sent to us.

For virology requests where users may be less familiar with the range of tests available it is particularly helpful for the laboratory to have full clinical details on the request form so that the most appropriate test can be carried.

Bacteriology

The bacteriology section of the Microbiology department deals with the isolation, identification, and antibiotic sensitivity testing of clinically significant bacterial isolates from clinical samples.

Many bacteriological investigations initially involve the inoculation of the specimen onto culture media followed by overnight incubation at body temperature.

Initial bacterial culture results are therefore rarely available until the day after receipt of the specimen and the final result may take a further one or more days.

Out of hours emergency service

An out of hours emergency service is provided between 6pm and 8.30am Monday to Friday and from 12noon Saturday to 8.30am Monday morning and on bank holidays.  

The on-call biomedical scientist must be contacted via the hospital switchboard (020 8296 2000) prior to sending the sample as a routine service is not provided during these times.

Samples are considered to be urgent where an early diagnosis would be beneficial to the management of the patients’ treatment. Medical advice can be obtained from the consultant via the hospital switchboard. Results will be telephoned.

Urgent samples include:

  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients with suspected meningitis and query SAH
  • Fluids pus, tissue from patients with septic arthritis or osteomyelitis 
  • Operative pus or swabs
  • Ascitic fluid from query bacterial peritonitis
  • Hepatitis B surface antigen if for immediate dialysis or for potential kidney donors
  • Hepatitis C antibodies if for immediate dialysis or for potential kidney donors
  • HIV antibody testing for women presenting in labour with no booking blood result
  • Hepatitis B, C and HIV test for needle stick donors
  • Other samples may be requested particularly by paediatricians, eg urgent urine cell-counts, NPA for RSV. 

Please include relevant clinical details to ensure that appropriate investigations are performed on each specimen. Current or intended antimicrobial therapy should be stated on the request form.

Clinical advice: available from consultant microbiologists in core hours. For out of hours advice please, contact the switchboard (020 8296 2000) who will contact the on-call microbiology consultant.

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