The British Infection Association (BIA), in collaboration with the Royal College of Pathologists, sought information about the delivery of microbiology, virology and infectious diseases expertise across the NHS in 2021. This survey was to help determine whether there is the right number of staff with the right skills in the right places to ensure safe and effective high-quality patient care and support.

Key findings

The data shows a pending workforce crisis. There is a lack of succession planning through inadequate trainee numbers and existing consultant level vacancies on a background of public health threats, increasing patient numbers and complexity of infections. Despite the move to create infection services to allow for greater use of the diverse skills among infection specialists, there remains an inability to meet the ever-increasing demands on this specialist workforce.

Going forward: What we need

  • Increased medical microbiology and virology training numbers
  • Improved recruitment into training and early exposure to pathology
  • Clinical scientists to support services
  • IT systems that are fit for purpose


To support the specialty, the College has made the following 5 recommendations.

1: Lobby for an expansion in medical and clinical scientist trainee posts.

2: Promote the recruitment and development of clinical scientists.

3: Improve retention of consultant-level staff.

4: Promote microbiology and virology in undergraduate education.

5: Promote pathology as a career for foundation doctors.

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