Friday, 5 August 2011

Liz Jones and an 'emergency'

Last Sunday, the Mail's Liz Jones announced she was off to cover the famine in East Africa.

For someone who has spent £26,000 on a bat sanctuary, £9 on tubes of toothpaste and had a homeopathic vet for her chickens, and then complained she was in debt, it seems an odd assignment.

But as ever with Jones, it wasn't about the people suffering in Africa. It was about her suffering:

on Friday morning, I found I needed the NHS for the first time in about 20 years, and it let me down. Very badly.

Jones was flying out on Monday. On Thursday, she went to her private GP in London to get some jabs she needed before she could get her visa. But he couldn't give her all of them in one day. So, back home in Somerset on Friday, she thought she would phone her local GP - one she has never used or even bothered to register with - and tell them she had an 'emergency':

'Hello!' I said cheerily. 'I am not registered with you, but I live two miles away. I wonder if you could possibly squeeze me in today to complete my jabs for travelling to Africa, and fill in my malaria prescription, as I need to start taking the tablets on Sunday.'

'You are not registered?!' the woman said, clearly appalled I had made her pick up the phone. 'We can't see you then. And we can't fill out a prescription that hasn't been written up by us.'

'But I will pay for the jabs, it only takes a couple of minutes.'

'But the nurse is fully booked. She can't do it. I don't even know if we have the drugs.'

'Can you find out?'

'Well, no. I'd have to ask her. And she can't fit you in.'

'But this is an emergency. I have never bothered you before in the three years I have lived here. Not with a snotty-nosed kid, not with depression, nothing. Never!'

'But we don't have your notes.'

'You don't need my notes. Lots of people go to walk-in centres. You could telephone my doctor if you're worried about anything.'

'I don't have time to do that. Why don't you go to A&E if it's an emergency?'

'I'm sure they wouldn't classify a routine jab as an emergency. I mean, it's a global crisis. Millions of people are dying and you won't put yourself out to allow me to be seen by a nurse, not even a doctor, for five minutes?'


Outraged at not being able to jump to the front of the queue ahead of people who were actually registered and already had appointments, she then mentions abuse in a care home in Bristol as if that, and her treatment, were similar:

I always wonder why people who don't like people go into the caring professions. The problems in the health service and in privately-run homes are not always to do with money. Attitude is often the issue.

Turning back to the receptionist, she adds:

What would it have cost this woman on Friday morning to have said: 'Sod the protocol – everyone needs to know about this famine, Miss Jones, so I am going to speak to the GP and see what we can do.'

'Everyone needs to know about this famine' - in other words, until Liz Jones writes about it, no one will. This despite widespread coverage across all media, and television appeals by the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Somewhat inevitably, a spoof account was started on Twitter. @LizJonesSomalia is written by the person behind the (spoof, but at times it's hard to tell) Daily Mail Reporter account. But it hasn't just been set up for laughs:

I’m doing this for charity now. I want your money.

If you’ve enjoyed the feed so far, and have replied or RT’d then perhaps you’d consider a donation for the DEC East Africa Appeal?...Tell me that’s not the perfect harnessing of social media?

At time of writing, the total raised so far has been over £22,000. And this on the day that Richard Littlejohn has said Twitter 'mobs' are:

motivated by spite, envy and resentment

(See also: a line-by-line analysis of Jones' article by nurse Brian Kellet.)


  1. Liz Jones again. Maybe she'll ask the starving Africans for a few quid to see her through the weekend. Hey, she took money off the jobless and disabled in the past with her in-paper begging article so I wouldn't put it past her.

  2. At first look the spoof account seems real, as it's exactly the sort of things you can imagine her saying.

  3. I see all the comments (99% of which seem to be critical of Jones) have all been removed.

  4. DBC, the comments are up again.

    The highest rated comments are all scathing of her story.

    Maybe there were too many to bother moderating?

    It truly is a disgusting piece of journalism, rightly condemned.

    To think my own mother reads this rag...

  5. Next week: Liz Jones complaining about the dearth of decent wine bars in Somalia.

    That Brian Kellett post is fantastic, by the way.

  6. The spoof LizJonesSomalia Twitter account has raised more than £20k for the DEC. Well done to everyone who donated.

  7. "Richard Littlejohn has said Twitter 'mobs' are:

    'motivated by spite, envy and resentment'."

    Is there a word for unintentional irony? There should be when it is as good as this.

  8. If she catches any tropical diseases what's the odds that she'll go running to the NHS upon her return...and then blame them for her predicament...and THEN bemoan the treatment she gets...for free.

  9. In all probability this so-called incident never happened. Like most of her articles, it just doesn't ring true.


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