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The Microbiology department is based at University Hospital of North Durham and serves the CDDFT acute sites, community clinics and GPs throughout County Durham. A team of Medical Laboratory Assistants, Associate Practitioners, Biomedical Scientists and Consultant Microbiologists all work closely together to ensure that our patients and service users receive high quality results that support the patient's care journey.

The Microbiology department examines many different sample types to look for evidence of infection using a variety of different techniques, e.g:

  • Bacterial & fungal culture: specialised growth plates or broths are inoculated with patient specimens and incubated under different conditions and temperature to try and grow and identify bacteria or fungi that may cause infections (pathogens).
  • Antimicrobial sensitivity: bacterial pathogens are tested against a range of antimicrobial agents that could be used to treat the infection they have caused. These tests can help to identify the most appropriate treatment for the patient, as well as identifying antimicrobial resistance.
  • Molecular tests: these tests are useful when pathogens cannot be grown using traditional culture techniques, or would take a very long time. Molecular tests look for pieces of genetic material that are unique to a specific pathogen.
  • Serology / blood tests: these tests are also useful when pathogens cannot be grown using traditional culture techniques, or would take a very long time e.g. viral infections. A range of different tests are used to detect unique parts of a pathogen known as antigens circulating in patient blood. Other tests can detect specific antibodies (part of the natural immune response) to a known pathogen in patient blood. This can be used to detect current or previous infection.

The Microbiology department also works closely with CDDFTs Infection Control team and Public Health England providing testing, screening and epidemiological information relating to infection control. This includes monitoring of communicable diseases and multi-drug resistant pathogens.

Test Repertoire

The Microbiology test repertoire can be found via the test directory and individual handbook pages.

Referred Tests

See the microbiology referral test page for the tests sent via the microbiology department, including details of the referral laboratories and specimen requirements.

Contact Information and Laboratory Opening Hours

please contact Microbiology using the email address below:

Please see the general pathology handbook information pages for further details on contacting Microbiology team.


The department welcomes all users comments and these can be emailed to the Quality Manager

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'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly, efficiently and professionally with full explanations and compassion from all staff involved'.

Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital