While King Charles has been diagnosed with cancer and has had a speedy start to his treatment, many who rely on NHS hospitals across the country aren’t so fortunate.

The news of the monarch’s recent diagnosis and quick action has caused NHS foundation trusts across the country to come under fire for their failure to treat patients within the targeted time.

In the UK, the NHS has a target that all cancer patients should receive treatment within 62 days of their diagnosis.

But nationally, two-fifths of those who have just received the life-changing news that they have cancer are then left waiting in limbo for over two months before treatment starts.

In Swindon, the latest data shows that within Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, only 67.16 per cent of patients are treated within the expected time frame.

Data from within the last six months, sourced by the Labour Party through Freedom of Information requests, also showed that some cancer patients at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital have waited up to 188 days for treatment – over twice the national target.

A spokesperson for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We are committed to ensuring we see more patients requiring cancer treatment sooner and, although we remain above average in relation to waiting times for cancer, we recognise this is below the national standard.

"Our performance improved recently, thanks to our work to run additional clinics with extra staff to help reduce our waiting times.

"Local people who experience new or recurrent symptoms which potentially could be a sign of cancer should continue to attend their local GP practice for advice and support.”

Figures show that the issue doesn’t just lie within Swindon, as other local NHS foundation trusts have also shown similar long wait times.

Comparing Swindon with other nearby NHS trusts, 67.11 per cent of NHS cancer patients in Somerset are treated in the target time and in Bath, it is 72.25 per cent.

But in Salisbury, figures are much worse than in Swindon as only a shocking 59.91 per cent of patients are treated within 62 days, which is barely more than half.

NHS England had announced in October 2023 that the service would be shifting a focus onto improving performance against this 62-day standard target.

“Nationally we are expecting to achieve 70 per cent by March 2024, although we understand the impact ongoing industrial action could have on this,” said a spokesperson for NHS England.

However, as of February 2024, only 65.19 per cent of NHS cancer patients across all English providers are treated within 62 days.