The Royal Treatment for Cancer


What's different from the NHS and how can you access it?

The news of HRH The Princess of Wales receiving treatment for cancer, shook the nation this weekend, as she revealed her diagnosis in a personal video message. Our thoughts and well wishes are with The Princess, for a speedy and full recovery. The news comes less than two months after King Charles began his treatment for cancer, and underscores the worrying statistic, that a cancer diagnosis will be a reality for one in every two us, at some point in our lives.


Despite their support for the NHS, the Royal pair did not have to navigate the NHS waitlist, with both receiving treatment at The London Clinic private hospital. Royal status is not a pre-requisite for skipping the queue, however. Even though serious abdominal surgery, could cost thousands to pay directly for private treatment, Health Insurance can give you access to these benefits and more, for premiums starting from under £25 per month*. 

We take a look at the types of benefits the Royals would have likely experienced, and what cancer treatment you could expect, with cover from a private medical insurance policy. 



Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a scary time for anyone, despite the frequency of diagnoses in the UK. Having health insurance normally means access to a Digital GP though, and quick access to GP appointments, often within the same day.

GPs can then refer you to necessary specialists to continue diagnosis. You would be able to have CT, PET, MRI scans and any specialist consultations, without joining the dreaded NHS queue. Some insurers also offer various helplines for you to discuss any symptoms, which might be concerning you.


Skip the Waiting List

Once you've received your diagnosis, health insurance allows you to skip the NHS waitlist and gets you on the right treatment path, as soon as possible. Any delay to beginning treatment for cancer is likely to compound the stress of a diagnosis. And rightly so, as the Royal College of Radiologists warns - "for some cancers, an extra wait of a month can make a 10% difference to survival rates." 

The Royal College of Radiologists have found that cancer patients are facing worsening delays and compromised care, with half of all NHS cancer units now reporting frequent delays for radiotherapy and chemotherapy. As Dr Tom Roques explained in the clip below to Sky News, the NHS is; "Really short of cancer specialists at all points in the pathway."



Private treatment for cancer can also give you a choice of hospitals and consultants, and a wider range of better medicines and treatments, some of which are unavailable on the NHS.

Your policy could cover all in-patient and day-patient treatment, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and out-patient consultants in full. This can include preventative chemotherapy, such as The Princess of Wales is receiving.

This means that whether you need an operation, or the latest drugs and radiotherapy treatment, your insurer will cover these costs. The good news is that even if you’ve opted to reduce your out-patient cover, when it comes to cancer treatments your insurer will generally remove your limitations and cover you in full.

Some policies will even cover chemotherapy at home, as well as costs like prosthetics and wigs. All inpatient treatment will be in your own en-suite room rather than a ward, and with an a la carte menu. 


Health insurance allows you to prioritise your health, to be proactive about protecting it and to monitor it more closely. Policies vary, but they all have their own individual ways to encourage and motivate you to live healthier lives; such as rewards for healthy food choices, discounted gym memberships or support for quitting smoking. According to Cancer Research UK’s cancer risk statistics; ‘Around 4 in 10 UK cancer cases every year could be prevented, that’s more than 135,000 every year.’ So it’s really important to have the correct support in place for prevention as well as cure. Some policies will pay for procedures to prevent further cancer if you have already been treated for cancer – for example Aviva would pay for a mastectomy to a healthy breast in the event that you’ve been diagnosed with cancer in the other breast.

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Choosing the right policy

It’s important to understand that private healthcare never competes with the NHS, but complements and works hand-in-hand with it. You can tailor your private medical insurance to integrate more or less with the NHS. 

When selecting the level of cancer cover you would like, the options are generally as below:

  • Cancer cover is included within the core cover. This means your diagnosis will be covered by your out-patient limits and treatment will be covered by your in- and day-patient cover.

  • Full cancer cover add-on. This will cover all diagnosis and treatments of cancer without limits.

  • Advanced cancer drugs. This will give you access to experimental trial drugs that have been shown to be effective but are not normally available via the NHS.

Levels of cover, what’s included and what’s not, do vary between insurers and policies. It is always a good idea to seek advice regarding which health insurance policy suits you best. Here at Usay Compare, our expert advisers are available on the end of the phone to do all the hard work for you. They will get to know you and your requirements in depth before comparing all the leading insurance companies to find the policy to suit you and your budget.

*Based on a 30 year old individual Bupa policy with postcode ML5 3PX, for £24.76 in February 2024. 

(Image: BBC)

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