Britain Cancels Cancer, Vaccine, Pregnancy Appointments for Queen’s Funeral

The queen's state funeral will be on Monday, which is now a last-minute public holiday—meaning crucial surgeries and treatments won't happen.

Britain Cancels Cancer, Vaccine, Pregnancy Appointments for Queen’s Funeral
The hearse carrying Queen Elizabeth’s coffin. Photo:Scott Heppell (AP)

If you’re planning to rock up to your long-scheduled cardiology appointment at a British hospital on Monday, actually, no you’re not. Thousands of patients are receiving notifications from the National Health Service that their “non-urgent” procedures and appointments must be postponed because of “unforeseen circumstances.” Said unforeseen circumstances? Lizzie croaking. Her funeral will be held on Monday, which has also been named an official, last-minute bank holiday. Just because the queen died doesn’t mean a bunch of other Brits have to, too.

Folks have tweeted about cardiology treatments and chemotherapy sessions being canceled because of the public holiday. I am merely a blogger but those are two things that feel rather medically urgent. Due to current waitlists for many NHS services, it’s very likely that many of these patients have waited for weeks or months—in some cases years—to schedule these appointments only to have them bumped at the last minute. It’s creating a lot of tension and fear. One woman, a chemo patient, tweeted that her covid booster appointment was canceled. I “just hope I stay safe,” she said.

One pregnant woman told openDemocracy that when her fetal scan was canceled and she tried to reschedule the appointment, she was kept on hold for four hours.

“Yes, it’s a routine scan, but that’s another week or two until I’m seen and wondering whether my baby is healthy,” she told the outlet. “Which means quite a lot of anxiety, sitting and waiting.”

Soccer, excuse me, football, is also being postponed during the national mourning period. Taking away soccer from mourning Brits feels sadistic, but it at least has fewer ramifications than withholding chemotherapy treatments from sick patients.

These cancellations come at a time when NHS waiting lists for routine treatments is at a record high, topping out at 6.8 million in July. Ambulance response times are also at an all-time high. According to a study by healthcare think tank Nuffield Trust, the pandemic is partly to blame for stressing an already overwhelmed system, which has been devastated by cuts and privatization under recent Conservative governments.

An NHS doctor told openDemocracy, “I imagine most of the doctors would be happy to just ignore the bank holiday, but we are totally reliant on a huge team of people paid minimum wage and treated like shit like porters and cleaners, and I imagine they will take a bank holiday if offered – as I would in their position.”

Again, I’m just a meager blogger, but I’m sure the state could fork over some holiday pay to these minimum wage workers—on a day they were already anticipating to work—that would let people keep their appointments and put more money in workers’ pockets. Last week The Economic Times estimated that the combined cost of the funeral and Charles’ coronation will be around $6 billion. Surely they can cut a few royal servants whose job is just to loudly announce when the king is approaching or whatever. Maybe any remaining funds Prince Andrew is squeezing out of his royal pension can be redirected to a not-pedophile.

Ultimately, if the queen was as kind and charitable as the state portrays her as, then surely she wouldn’t want her natural death to create a domino effect of avoidable ones.

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