Military medics deployed to help Kent and Essex hospitals cope with increasing demand

Military assistance MoD Crown Copyright

Some 50 military medics have been deployed to hospitals in Kent and Essex to ensure there is workforce resilience to cope with increasing demand amid the pandemic.

Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group says all hospitals in the region are very busy.

They add: “Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out but this will take several months. The number of seriously ill Covid-19 patients needing hospital care will stay high as long as the infection rates stay high. Covid-19 remains a serious illness which kills.

“To protect yourself, family and friends and help the NHS; everyone in Kent and Medway needs to do their bit.

“The NHS across Kent and Medway is working together to provide support where needed and have cooperated to ensure we have opened more critical care beds.

“We’re continuing to provide cancer and other urgent operations and will aim to carry on providing other non-covid treatments as much as possible; but in some cases we need to move staff so they can support the additional critical care beds we have opened.”

As of January 5 there were 460 beds occupied by patients with covid in East Kent Hospitals Trust’s general sites at Margate, Ashford and Canterbury. Of those patients, 26 were on mechanical ventilation.

Testing and vaccine roll out

Another 2,155 military personnel have been deployed on community testing tasks, including in Kent, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Test sites in Thanet are in Margate and Manston (PCR testing) and asymptomatic test sites at Ramsgate Port and The Centre in Birchington which has had military assistance.

The UK Armed Forces have also committed over 300 personnel to support the vaccine rollout in England. The Vaccine Quick Reaction Force (VQRF) makes up the majority of the support in England, consisting of 21 teams of 6 personnel assigned to the 7 NHS England regions. The Force is able to provide surge support to the vaccine roll-out if required by local health authorities and may be stood-up to administer vaccines if and when directly asked by the NHS.

Vaccination plan (Image iStock/MarsBars)

A large public vaccination ‘super site’ is due to be opened in Kent, says the region’s clinical commissioning group, although a date and location is yet to be revealed. On Monday seven large public vaccination centres opened across the UK. The nearest to Kent is at Epsom Racecourse in Surrey.

The NHS in Kent and Medway is working hard to set up vaccination services and bosses say the majority of areas will have a service operating by the end of this week (January 17).

Of the 42 Primary Care Networks in Kent and Medway, 30 have sites that have already started, nine are starting by the end of this week and three, Strood, Medway Peninsular, and Romney Marsh, have plans being confirmed and should start vaccinating by the end of the week 18-24 January. Approval has also been given to use the Folkestone & Hythe DIstrict Council building as a vaccination site.

Vaccinations are also being carried out at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, predominantly focusing on high priority patients who would be coming to hospital for other care, plus NHS and care home staff.

In Thanet there are three main GP vaccination sites, each serving a primary care hub.

Thanet vaccination sites:

Start dateVaccination sitePractices covered
Tues 15 DecMocketts Wood, BroadstairsThe Limes Medical Centre

Northdown Surgery

Bethesda Medical Centre

Mocketts Wood Surgery

Wed 16 Dec


Minster Surgery, RamsgateWestgate Surgery

Minster Surgery

St Peter’s Surgery

Birchington Medical Practice

Broadstairs Medical Practice

Ash Surgery

Thur 17 Dec


Montefiore Centre, RamsgateThe Grange Medical Practice

Summerhill Surgery

Dashwood Medical Centre

East Cliff Practice

Newington Road Surgery

At the end of last week over 78 % of all care home residents and staff had been vaccinated in Margate & Mocketts PCN. Only four care homes were left due to a pre-existing Covid outbreak.

The government covid vaccination programme plan pledges that by the end of January, everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site or, for a small number of highly rural areas, the vaccine will be brought to them via mobile teams.

The plan says tens of millions of people will be immunised by the spring at over 2,700 vaccination sites across the UK handling 2 million vaccinations a week.

The UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan sets out how the government will work with the NHS, devolved administrations, local councils and the armed forces to deliver the programme.

The plan is for all residents and staff in over 10,000 care homes across the country to be offered a vaccine by the end of the month.

More than 2 million people in the UK have now been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines. The UK has secured early access to 367 million doses of seven of the most promising vaccines so far.

This month the vaccine developed by Moderna became the third to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The other two are the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca.

Government data

Today (January 13) the UK recorded its highest number of deaths attributed to covid since the pandemic began with 1,564 losses. Some 47,525 new positive cases were also recorded across the UK.

Another 117 people in Thanet have been recorded today (January 13) as testing positive for covid, making a total of 908 in the last seven days – a dip of just over 20% on the preceding week.

The positive rate per 100,000 is now 730 (as of January 8). A total of 9,115. positive tests have been recorded for Thanet according to the government data dashboard.

A heat map published on the government website shows a large number of positive cases are being recorded in those aged 20-24 (rolling rate of 1076,5 per 100,000 as of January 8) followed by those aged 25-29 (1040 per 100,000) and those aged 55-59 ( 993.3 per 100,000). Rates for youngsters aged 15-19 stood at 926.2 per 100,000 on January 8. The highest rolling rates remain for those aged 85-89 (1194.4 per 100,000) and 90+ (2376.6 per 100,000).

Seven deaths of people who had tested positive for covid within the last 28 days are recorded today, making 36 losses in the last seven days. The total number of people recorded who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Coronavirus as of January 12 was 288 (loss of life within 28 days of a positive test). Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate but may not be the primary cause of death.

Find Thanet case data on the dashboard here


  1. I went for a no-symptom Covid test in Birchington yesterday, and was surprised to see it largely ran by (very nice) young Gurkhas. Oh, and I tested negative!

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