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News round-up / NHS patients encouraged to take boat, Lib Dems call for better connectivity, extra Loganair flight, rescue featured in new RNLI book, lifeboat auction.

NHS patients needing to travel to Aberdeen for treatment who are shielding or deemed to be high risk during the coronavirus outbreak are being asked to take the boat instead of the plane.

Photo: NorthLink Ferries

Patients still have the choice of travelling by air but it may not be possible to adhere to social distancing while doing so.

NorthLink has introduced measures which include the rotation of cabins in use, deep cleaning of cabins and cabins being left unoccupied for a minimum period of 24 hours after use.

Special arrangements have also been put in place for patients that can be requested at the time of booking. These include early boarding, later disembarkation and, where possible, ensuring the walkway is kept free of other passengers while doing so.

Contact-free delivery of meals to cabins can also be arranged to ensure patients within these categories can maintain social distancing.

Questions or concerns can be sent to patient travel manager Yvonne Graham at ygraham@nhs.net

SHETLAND’s two political representatives have called for improved isles connectivity to be a “positive legacy” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

MP Alistair Carmichael and MSP Beatrice Wishart have written to culture secretary Oliver Dowden to stress the need for “close cooperation between the UK and Scottish governments with telecoms providers to improve service”.

Carmichael said: “The need for social distancing has made us more reliant than ever on digital connectivity and people are no longer able to tolerate inconsistent connections.”

Wishart said: “Good connectivity is vital so people can keep in touch but also to work and learn from home, which will be necessary for some time to come. It’s also essential for Shetland’s economy to be able to recover from the pandemic and future-proof the delivery of services.”

LOGANAIR has added an extra morning flight connecting Sumburgh to Aberdeen to its skeleton schedule.

Chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said it means there will now be two flights each weekday on the route instead of one.

“The two main drivers for this have been the resumption of some routine NHS patient travel and the first phase of lifting of lockdown restrictions meaning that some essential travel in other categories has also resumed,” he said.

Travel remains for essential purposes only. See also: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/2020/06/16/shetland-should-stick-with-two-metre-distance-says-health-chief/

A LERWICK Lifeboat man says he is “immensely proud” to feature in a new book which retells some of the most dramatic rescues carried out by the RNLI over the past 20 years.

Darren Harcus features in the book Surviving The Storms as he recounts being part of the crew which rescued five fishermen from the Ocean Way after they had to abandon ship in 2017.

Harcus incidentally worked on the Ocean Way – adding an extra dimension to the tough operation.

He said: “I am immensely proud that this story will feature in Surviving the Storms.

“It is an honour, not only for me, but for the crew with me that day to be a part of RNLI history in this way.”

AN ONLINE auction has raised £5,500 for the RNLI in the absence of the annual Aith Lifeboat Gala.

The event, scheduled for June, was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It usually takes in around £6,000 for the local lifeboat station.

However, over 80 prizes were donated from local businesses and the public for an online auction instead.

Andrea Abernethy, who helped to organise the auction, said: “To raise this amount online is excellent, and nearly makes up for having to call off the Gala.

“Folk around here always chip in lots for RNLI fundraisers. It’s such a good cause, and – because the lifeboat is based here – we can all see just how often it gets called on to help people around Shetland. It has great community support.”