Public health microbiology

Background

Public Health Microbiology (PHM) incorporates microbiology in the field of human health and disease alongside microbiology for:

  • animals
  • food
  • water
  • the environment

PHM also facilitates the monitoring of known and emerging threats and the evaluation of effective interventions, to ensure public health action and policy can be developed.

This requires laboratory scientists, epidemiologists, and clinicians to generate, integrate, analyse and communicate epidemic intelligence, as is summarised in the following diagram.

This flow diagram displays the key elements and outcomes for the Public Health Microbiology. Data feed is received by the information system from Diagnostic Human Microbiology and Reference Microbiology Services; Animal Microbiology Services; Food, Water & Environmental Microbiology Services, University Collaboration and Research. Expert advice on epidemic surveillance for collaboration, data analysis and integration is provided by Data Scientists, Laboratory Scientists, Epidemiologists, Clinicians, Software Experts and Statisticians to define and shape Public Health Action and Policy.

The Public Health Microbiology Strategy for Scotland outlines the key functions of PHM in Scotland as:

  • monitoring, alert and response
  • technical expertise
  • clinical and scientific advice
  • workforce development
  • reference microbiology
  • collaboration and research

Collaboration and co-ordination are critical for the development and delivery of the strategy and it will be necessary to bring together partners across Scotland and beyond to accurately define the challenges and to prioritise them, ensuring that we support the delivery of data for surveillance and provide comprehensive scientific expertise.

Our PHM team includes:

  • Michael Coyne, Senior Biomedical Scientist
  • Sandra Currie, Healthcare Scientist
  • Stephen Gillespie, Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) Senior Adviser
  • Matt Holden, WGS Adviser
  • Charanpreet Kaur, SHPN PSO
  • Fiona Fleming, Scottish Health Protection Network (SHPN) Programme Portfolio Manager
  • Trish Kennedy, Service Manager
  • Annette Little, Project Manager PHM
  • Michael Lockhart, Clinical Lead for PHM, Consultant Medical Microbiologist
  • Kirsty Mangin, Data Manager
  • Sharif Shaaban, Bioinformatician
  • Dave Yirrell, Consultant Virologist

The team can be contacted at NSS.SHPN-PHMteam@nhs.net.

Reference laboratories

On behalf of our organisation, PHM have the responsibility for commissioning reference laboratory services for NHSScotland. They carry out this role in partnership with NHS National Services Division (NSD). The Reference Laboratory Advisory Group (RLAG) advise NSD and our organisation on the appropriate development of reference laboratory services in Scotland. The Reference Laboratory Operational Group (RLOG) discuss issues that may significantly impact on the service delivery of reference laboratory services and the Public Health Microbiology Strategy for Scotland. The RLOG also provide a forum for focused discussion on the continued implementation of pathogen genomics in Scotland.

Scottish national reference laboratories provide support to guide the clinical management of individual patients, as well as providing an analytical and advisory service for the epidemiological data that is collected by the NHS and PHM.

Each laboratory maintains an archive of samples that contributes to:

  • research
  • quality assurance
  • audit
  • teaching

Frontline diagnostic testing is undertaken in local laboratories and is not centrally funded.

Visit the following websites for further reference laboratory information:

Specialist laboratories

The Blood Borne Virus Specialist Testing Service (BBV STS) is shared between two sites within Scotland. The service is commissioned by National Services Scotland (NSS) to provide a range of specialist and confirmatory tests for blood borne viruses.

Visit the websites below for further information on services provided, specimen type and turnaround times.