Charles' Quick Treatment Points Out an NHS Problem

Many cancer patients have to wait dangerously long for care
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2024 7:30 PM CST
Charles' Quick Treatment Points Out an NHS Problem
Britain's King Charles III departs the London Clinic, where he had undergone a procedure for an enlarged prostate, in central London on Jan. 29.   (Victoria Jones/Pool Photo via AP)

His prime minister said King Charles' cancer was caught early, and treatment began within two weeks. That improves the king's prognosis, an advantage other cancer patients in England don't have. Patients enrolled in the public health care system are enduring potentially dangerous wait times for the care to begin, the Washington Post reports. After being referred for urgent tests, more than one-third of patients waited more than 62 days for their cancer treatment to start, December data shows. More than 10% waited more than 104 days, per Cancer Research UK. Cutting wait times for health care was among Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's core promises; he conceded last week that he hasn't succeeded.

Most people are covered by the National Health Service, which is popular—more so than the monarchy, polls show—but plagued by funding issues. Charles was admitted to a private hospital, but officials haven't said whether he's being treated privately or under the NHS. Either way, his prompt treatment highlighted the differences when new data was released last week, per the Guardian. In calling for the wait times to be reduced, an oncologist in the system praised the king's transparency and courage in facing his diagnosis. "We are urging the government to show similar qualities and adopt a new 'get it done' approach," Pat Price said. "It simply doesn't have to be this way." (More National Health Service stories.)

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