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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Thank You - Microbiology Laboratory

21/05/2020

The job of our Microbiology Laboratory staff is to test samples from our patients to make a diagnosis of infection. They then provide information on the cause of that infection, and data to guide treatment.

The testing of hospital patients for COVID-19 has been a major global focus over the past few months, and the pandemic has had a really dramatic impact on the laboratory and its staff, a sometimes overlooked part of the NHS workforce, but now rightly in the spotlight.

The laboratory is important, because testing for this virus has a critical role, both in the management of the individual patient, and in managing the outbreak from a public health perspective.

Team Lead Anita Justice and her staff, including a whole team of BMS staff and research staff from the University of Oxford, are rising to the challenge of providing the additional testing capacity now needed.

The laboratory now has two teams: a COVID-19 team and a team ensuring 'business as usual'.

They are testing over 1000 samples daily, throughout the day from 7.00am to 11.00pm, and sometimes through the night. Samples come from inpatients, staff and the community.

It is a non-stop job, ensuring the team is safe at work and coping with the pressure, replenishing stocks of chemicals and other items in a time of international shortages, and putting processes in place so that results reach the right people as quickly as possible.

The Microbiology Laboratory is also supporting the testing in satellite laboratories in the Trust and University, and helping to establish testing within the Regional Genetics Laboratory and Molecular Haematology, amongst others.

Despite the current demand for huge numbers of tests, the quality of testing must never be compromised - 'every single sample counts'. They want to get the right answer, back to the right person, as quickly as possible. It's challenging, but it is what they are trained to do.

OUH Chief Executive Officer, Dr Bruno Holthof, says:

"The work our Microbiology Laboratory is crucial for not just our local community but the whole country.

"We are very lucky to have these exceptional people as part of our Trust."

We would like to thank the Microbiology Laboratory and its extraordinary staff for doing an unbelievable job in very difficult circumstances.

They are absolute professionals, and always prepared to go the extra mile - it is a privilege to have you in our team.

Thank you all for what you do.

Pictured: Trust CEO Dr Bruno Holthof with Microbiology Consultant Katie Jeffery and Consultant in Clinical Infection Monique Andersson