Banner caught up in helicopter airlift spin

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An Arran man is recovering in hospital after being airlifted in a RAF Puma helicopter evacuation last week.

However, Ian Good does not have and never had cororavirus – despite claims to the contrary by the Scotland Office and other agencies, which were printed in good faith last week by the Banner.

Instead the 74-year-old was flown off the island to University Hospital Crosshouse near Kilmarnock in a diabetic coma and remains in intensive care.

His wife Helen, who lives in Kildonan, told the Banner: ‘He was very poorly last Thursday night but has rallied and is now comfortable, but still on a ventilator, and progressing slowly.’

However his family have still to receive any apology from the Scotland Office who issued the original press release stating that the patient airlifted ‘showed severe symptoms of coronavirus’.

In good faith the Banner printed the story last week only to learn hours later from the family that this was not and never had been the case. We also were concerned at the unnecessary alarm this may have caused around the island.

His wife Helen said: ‘The government needs to be more careful. The statement frightened a great many people on the island. I appreciate it was unintentional by the media, but it was intentional by the government spin people.’

On learning the truth the Banner immediately updated the story on our website and Ian’s daughter Sara took to social media, after the evacuation was widely reported in the national media, to let people know her dad did not have coronavirus so people would stop worrying unnecessarily and she received more than 100 responses from people thanking her for letting them know and wishing her dad well.

This was the first island medical evacuation of a patient in Scotland to be carried out by one of three RAF Puma helicopters based at Kinloss as part of a Aviation Task Force to support the government’s response to the coronavirus, which is why it was seen as ‘big news’.

The Banner has contacted the Scottish Office seeking an apology, but is also still waiting.

The issue was raised by North Ayrshire and Arran MP Patricia Gibson, who asked Scots secretary Alister Jack to investigate telling him: ‘I am sure you would agree that no one wishes to misreport any aspect of the spread of this virus, but the release from the Scotland Office raises serious questions about how information pertaining to local communities and coronavirus is checked for accuracy before being released to the wider public.

However, in his reply, which has been sent to the Banner by the Scotland Office, does not address the issue but only states: ‘Thankfully, it was later established the patient had not contracted COVID-19. However, thanks to the RAF they were taken to the most appropriate healthcare facility very quickly.’

Mrs Gibson said: ‘It is disappointing that in Mr Jack’s response the point raised about checking these releases for accuracy is ignored and he focuses on the fact that the patient was airlifted to hospital, which was never in question.’