British Society for Microbial Technology

Read The Laboratory Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic by Brian Duerden (who has chaired many BSMT scientific conferences) and colleagues - like many other microbiologists and the public health community, Brian and colleagues are very concerned about the COVID-19 microbiology testing debacle and the consequences of the demise of PHE.

Read Brian's introduction to the article:
Since it became clear how inadequate the country’s public health microbiology and epidemiology services were for responding to the pandemic emergency of Covid-19, a small group of retired or part-retired medical microbiologists with many years' experience of clinical and pubic health microbiology - Geoff Ridgway, Rod Warren, Peter Hawkey and me - has worked to assess and analyse how we had come to this state and what are key criteria for the delivery of these services into the future. The result is a document which focuses on the need for integrated laboratory testing services linked to both clinical diagnosis and treatment of the patient, provided by the NHS, and the public health requirements of contact tracing to minimise spread and surveillance data to monitor the state of any major infectious disease. The NHS and Public Health requirements are the two facets for which testing is done and they should be indivisible. This requires a coordinated network of public health, clinical and academic laboratories to be established so that the country’s undoubted expertise and facilities could be mobilised as and when such emergencies arise.

This issue is of particular concern as the Government has called for tender submissions from the private sector to provide public health microbiology services that are distinct and separate from the NHS which provides patient care and from the Public Health Medicine services currently in local authorities. The announcement of the abolition of PHE leaves it very unclear as to the form of the replacement body and we hope that this can be a contribution to the discussions. We were pleased to get it into the public and political domain on Wednesday August 19th when I was invited to give oral evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Covid, having submitted the document to them on Sunday evening! Please feel free to use any of the material in discussions or submissions if you feel it would be helpful.

Best wishes to all, Brian Duerden