Pathology - microbiology header

The microbiology department provides a comprehensive clinical and laboratory service for the diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of infectious diseases.

The departmental team of consultant microbiologists, biomedical scientists and support staff undertake more than 500,000 investigations per year within the following sections:


These investigations detect the presence or absence of bacterial infection from a variety of patient samples including urine, faeces and swabs. Pathogenic bacteria are grown, identified and tested against a number of antimicrobial agents that may be used 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.

Bacteriology supports the infection control team in preventing hospital acquired infections by screening for MRSA and clostridium difficile (C diff).


These investigations detect the presence or absence of viral infection. Pathogenic viruses are grown in the laboratory, which may a number of weeks, or detected by microscopy methods which can provide a much faster result.

Virology investigations are undertaken to diagnose influenza and can distinguish between different strains such as H1N1 (swine flu) or H5N1 (bird flu).


These investigations detect the presence or absence of microbial antigen and antibodies in blood samples. The majority of samples are processed on the same day as they are received. However, results that need to be confirmed or very specialist tests may need to be sent away to a national reference laboratory.

Serology investigations are used to diagnose and monitor infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B or to check the immune status of patients to diseases such as rubella and chicken pox.


These investigations detect the presence or absence of infection by fungi, which include moulds and yeasts. Like bacteria, fungi must be grown on culture media and some moulds take many weeks to grow sufficiently to be identified in the laboratory.

Mycology investigations are used to diagnose skin infections such as thrush, ringworm or athlete’s foot as well as more serious, infections of the lungs and other organs.


These investigations detect the presence of parasites from the hair, skin, intestines or other body sites. Clinicians can either send suspected parasites to the laboratory or samples that may contain parasites or eggs that can be detected and identified by microscopic examination.

Parasitology investigations are used to diagnose infections or infestations including head and body lice, tapeworms, amoebae and tropical fly larvae.

Molecular microbiology

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

Molecular microbiology investigations are used to diagnose chlamydia, gonorrhoea and hepatitis C infections as well as monitoring the amount of virus in the blood of HIV patients in response to treatment.


The Microbiology discipline of East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a UKAS accredited service to ISO 15189:2012 (UKAS no.9399) and has the Institute of Biomedical Science training approval for pre-registration, specialist Medical Microbiology and Virology, as well as support staff vocational training. The service also has National School of Healthcare Science approval for trainee clinical scientists and trainee consultant clinical scientists.

UKAS Scope of Accreditation  UKAS Certificate of Accreditation

All tests not listed on this scope are not accredited to ISO 15189:2012 but are within the governance of the quality management system.  In regards to our published scope of accreditation, please note that we have recently changed analytical platforms and are currently in process of UKAS accreditation for the Gemini, Liaision, MDX, BactAlert VirtuO and ABI 7500 Fast Dx real time PCR instrument.

Microbiology User Handbook

Download our Microbiology User Handbook


The microbiology department of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust is approved by the Institute of Biomedical Science for training both trainee and specialist biomedical scientists.

Contact us

We are unable to give results or clinical advice directly to patients, if you have any queries or issues, please contact your GP or care provider.

Clinicians only, please contact us on:

Telephone: 01233 616760

East Kent Microbiology (Ashford)

William Harvey Hospital,
Kennington Road,
TN24 0LZ.

Frequently Asked Questions

More information about blood tests can be found at Lab Tests Online UK