Public health laboratories

PHE's public health laboratories provide routine and enhanced molecular diagnostic services to NHS trusts.

Public health laboratories (PHLs) are based within large NHS Trusts where specialist clinical departments require specialist, and often dedicated, medical microbiology support.

PHLs provide:

  • specialist advice and support, particularly for the investigation of outbreaks and incidents
  • specialist referred tests - tests not performed in all laboratories, but which do not necessarily have to be sent to a reference laboratory (such as viral culture, other virology, mycology and serology tests, particularly if low volume)
  • molecular diagnostic tests that are not widely available in other laboratories, such as nucleic acid amplification tests for HIV and hepatitis C
  • emergency response to bioterrorist incidents, natural outbreaks, and serious epidemics, such as SARS and H5N1 influenza
  • research and development - Public Health England’s public health laboratories are at the forefront of research and development in medical microbiology and molecular diagnostics, providing our service partners with direct ‘real-time’ access to technological improvements and advancements
  • additional work (identification or typing) where not done by a reference laboratory


Published 31 July 2014