Army medic recalls Covid-19 vaccination support role

As Armed Forces Week kicks off, we look back to the part played by military personnel supporting the NHS during Operation Rescript.

Corporal Kyle Hoy, 34, of the Royal Army Medical Corps was settling down to enjoy the festive period at the end of last year when he was informed by his chain of command that he was on immediate notice to move.

“I didn’t really know what to expect when I first got the call to be mobilised. But one of the best things was being able to spend time getting to know patients, particularly in care homes, and reassuring them." Corporal Kyle Hoy

Kyle was planning to take some time out at Christmas at his base station, Defence Munitions Kineton, Warwickshire where he is the medical treatment facility practice manager. He was unable to return home to be with his family on the Isle of Man for the festive season after the island closed its borders due to coronavirus.

Along with other military personnel, Kyle was drafted in to be part of a quick reaction vaccination task force supporting the NHS with the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

After being briefed at the West Midlands Joint Military Command in Donnington, Shropshire in early January 2021, Kyle formed part of a team of six, three clinicians and three medical technicians.

Two further teams were formed ready to go out on the ground helping deliver vaccinations while a final team provided command and control support at the West Midlands military HQ. The teams were a mixture of Army, RAF and Royal Navy medical personnel.

The three deployable teams covered the whole of the Midlands, East and West.

Kyle’s team’s first task was to deploy to Grantham community sports centre where a vaccination centre was in operation. He said, “It was great to see how efficient the process was and the ease with which we settled in. During a typical 12-hour shift our team delivered over 600 vaccinations. 

“Our Doctor, Flt Lt Spence, was proactive in notifying emergency service staff that spare slots were available. As a result, many members of the public turned up to receive their vaccination ahead of their original planned date.”

The second task for Kyle’s team saw them deploy to Mablethorpe where they helped a GP surgery. This task was on a smaller scale to the Grantham mass vaccination centre but, over five days, they still delivered over 1,000 vaccinations to the public.

Kyle added, “The days and weeks flew past as we deployed to numerous locations across the Midlands. Our final task was to form a mobile vaccination service with the aim of targeting specific patient groups, including bed bound patients in care homes. 

“This was a significant challenge. On one occasion, at a care home in Nottingham, staff advised us to approach with caution a young male patient with severe dementia. Our military doctor was punched and kicked. I helped to physically restrain the patient along with care home staff who quickly came after I pressed the emergency button.” 

The initial four-week deployment for Kyle’s team was extended to three months. During this period, the three military quick reaction vaccination task force teams delivered over 21,000 vaccinations across the Midland region.

Kyle said, “I didn’t really know what to expect when I first got the call to be mobilised. But one of the best things was being able to spend time getting to know patients, particularly in care homes, and reassuring them.

“It was great to be thanked by members of the public, NHS personnel and other emergency service staff who worked alongside us.”

Kyle has been an Army medic since he joined the Army aged 17. As well as various postings in the UK, he has previously served in Brunei and also in Sierra Leone when he deployed on Operation Gritrock in 2014 as part of the fight against the Ebola virus pandemic.