The Microbiology Department investigates infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. We process screening samples for the identification of MRSA and Clostridium difficile toxin detection in both community and hospital patients.

Microbiological tests and investigations are performed by biomedical scientists, who are supported by medical laboratory assistants. We test a variety of specimens, including urine, faeces, blood, tissue, hair, skin, nails, fluids and swabs from a range of bodily sites, for evidence of infection.

We test blood samples for viruses (including HIV, hepatitis A, B, and C, rubella, syphilis, chicken pox, measles and mumps) using automated analysers. We also screen specimens from the genito-urinary medicine clinic (provided by York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust), GP family planning and hospital clinics for sexually transmitted infections.

In addition to this, we determine which antibiotics are most useful to treat a particular infection using antibiotic sensitivity testing methods.

We work closely with the Infection Prevention & Control Team to help prevent the spread of infection within our hospitals and other healthcare settings.

Please note that we are unable to give results to patients, relatives or friends. They can only be given to the requesting doctor.

Testing times

Turnaround times for microbiology samples vary due to the length of time taken for micro-organisms to grow. Most micro-organisms will take 24-48 hours to grow and identify but some may take up to six weeks.

While we perform the majority of investigations on site, some samples are sent to reference laboratories and may take longer to complete.

Opening hours

Normal service:

Monday-Friday: 9am-5.30pm
Saturday: 9am-12.30pm

On call service for urgent specimens by arrangement only:

Monday-Friday: 5.30-9pm
Saturday: 12.30-9pm
Sunday: 9am-9pm

From 9pm-9am on Monday-Sunday (seven nights a week) there is an off-site service provided by the Microbiology service at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust for urgent paediatric urines and sterile fluids only. Information on how to arrange of site testing is available on ICE requesting.


We are located on the second floor of the Fewston Wing, Harrogate District Hospital. If you are a patient bringing in specimens, the laboratory is located near Herriot’s Restaurant. Head towards the main Pharmacy Department, but take the flight of stairs just before the Pharmacy entrance up one floor to find us.

Key staff

Microbiology Laboratory Manager: Dr Joanne Smullen

Clinical Lead: Dr Katharine Scott

Useful links