Oxford Hospitals Charity has been working closely with a small team in our hospitals that has a huge impact.

The Microbiology team, based in the John Radcliffe Hospital, is responsible for testing thousands of bacterial and fungal samples every week - from patients looked after in all four of our hospitals and by GPs across Oxfordshire.

They’re a dedicated group and know that having the very best laboratory equipment can make a huge difference to patients and clinical teams – so turned to the charity for some extra support.

Knowing the great impact this equipment would have for so many patients our charity trustees were delighted to approve funding for additional state-of-the-art technology.

The first piece of equipment, funded earlier this year by the charity, is called a BioFire and it can diagnose viral and bacterial meningitis in children and adults very quickly.

Previously, when a patient was suspected of having meningitis, it used to take the lab team up to 72 hours to confirm if there was a bacterial or viral cause.

During that long three-day wait the hospital would treat patients – including tiny babies and toddlers - with intensive antibiotics assuming they did have one of the versions of this serious infection. This can be really unpleasant – especially for children - and cause parents and loved ones to endure an agonising wait.

But our new equipment can diagnose meningitis in just two hours. This means parents know quickly whether their child has the condition, and the patient will only receive the treatment they really need.

Within weeks of receiving this advanced equipment we had a successful diagnosis of a patient who was seen at the Horton General in a very poorly state. In just three hours we could confirm the specific meningitis diagnosis, allowing the right use antibiotics, avoiding further investigations and making sure the correct preventative treatments were given to those who had been in contact with the patient. I am delighted to say, they have now recovered fully.

The equipment has also allowed us to test for other types of infection – including upper respiratory pathogens and the rare and highly infectious condition, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Being able to diagnose or rule out contagious conditions like this quickly is really important. In the past samples would be sent away and the hospital would have to had to wait for the results for several days. During that time clinicians would always take the precautionary step of assuming patients were contagious, fully isolating them - which involves a serious amount of NHS time and resources.

Now – instead of wait for the diagnosis, our labs know the results within just a few hours. This is a huge step forward, both for the patients and for our hospitals.

The equipment has also had beneficial impact to many different patient groups – especially those immunocompromised or cancer patients.

We are also delighted that the charity has just funded another very important piece of laboratory equipment which allows our ability to diagnose sepsis faster and ensure correct antimicrobial therapy.

This new equipment – called a Maldi-TOF Biotyper, arrived this summer, and is already working 24/7 providing quicker and more accurate diagnosis of a huge number of bacterial and fungal conditions – helping around 1,000 patients across Oxfordshire and beyond weekly, not just those hospitalised but also from our surrounding communities.

As you can imagine – being able to give results in minutes, rather than hours or even days can have an enormous impact on patients.

We are so thrilled that – thanks to you support of Oxford Hospitals Charity - the Microbiology team is able to offer such an improved service to our patients and the whole team is incredibly grateful to all those who support the charity to help make this happen.

SARAH OAKLEY, Microbiology Laboratory Manager and Lead Biomedical Scientist said:

‘Thank you to everyone who supports the charity and has helped to transform the level of technology available to the hospital laboratories. We are already getting such positive feedback about the improved service we can now offer.’

If you would like to support areas like the Microbiology labs, get in touch today. 

Tel: 01865 743 444

Email: [email protected]

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