The future of diagnostic virology, part 2: staffing the service


Corresponding author and reprint requests: C. R. Madeley, Burnfoot, Stocksfield, Northumberland, NE43 7TN, UK
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The first part of this review discussed the facilities that are needed to provide a competent diagnostic virology service at the turn of the century. Just as important is to consider who will run it.

Hitherto, there have been specialist virologists in most countries. Their roles have evolved with time, developing and running a variety of diagnostic tests, often to answer local needs and their own curiosity, and frequently linked to their research projects. Recently, the advent of an increasingly long list of commercial tests has raised the real possibility of introducing standardized centrally validated testing methods, and using them to bring laboratories up to a similarly uniform level. Unfortunately, they have also had the effect of seeming to make specialist virologists unnecessary, except in a few central reference laboratories. As a consequence, and because of increasing pressure on health service resources, vacated senior virology posts have remained unfilled and this now threatens the career structure of those who want to become, and continue as, virologists. This review explores these issues and offers a possible solution.