A PATIENT airlifted by an RAF Puma helicopter from Arran to Crosshouse did not have COVID-19 symptoms as an official report said.

Last week, the Scotland Office published a press release detailing the emergency medical evacuation by military and ambulance personnel of a person with “severe symptoms of coronavirus”.

It has since emerged that this patient did not have the virus and was a man in a diabetic coma.

Patricia Gibson MP wrote to Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack to ask him to investigate the “factually inaccurate” release.

Ms Gibson wrote: “I am sure you would agree that no one wishes to misreport any aspect of the spread of this virus, but this release from the Scotland Office has raised serious questions about how information pertaining to local communities and coronavirus is checked for accuracy before being released to the wider public.”

The MP for North Ayrshire and Arran said the incident is now widely known not to have been related to coronavirus and that the release has potentially compromised trust between publications and their readership and caused “unnecessary alarm.”

Alister Jack MP responded to Ms Gibson’s letter yesterday saying he was “satisfied that the request from the Scottish Ambulance Service to the RAF on April 22 made it clear that it was for a potential COVID-19 patient and therefore urgent assistance was needed”.

The Scotland Office press release read: “The [Puma] crew were called at 0100 on Wednesday to support the transfer of a critically ill patient from the Isle of Arran to the University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock after the patient showed severe symptoms of coronavirus.

“The three-person helicopter crew flew to Arran, where they landed at Knockenkelly and met the emergency medical care team on site.”

The Herald understands that the patient was not showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Ms Gibson urged Mr Jack to investigate what procedures were put in place to ensure the accuracy of the release and find out how they could have failed.

Mr Jack’s response makes no mention of further investigation.

He wrote: “There were no other options available and without the intervention of the RAF, the critically ill patient would not have been able to be airlifted from Arran to hospital in Kilmarnock.”


Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. We’re not exaggerating when we say that the future of the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, and the vital local news service we’ve provided since 1853, is under threat.

Please consider supporting the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald in whatever way you can – by paying just 90p for a copy of the paper, when you’re shopping for essential supplies for yourself and others, or by subscribing to our e-edition here.  

Thanks – and stay safe.