Cancer patients in the UK will get private treatment free of charge if NHS specialists are unavailable within the government’s two-week treatment target.

The country’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown plans to enhance the private sector’s role in the NHS and said that the government will pay for a private consultation for the cost equivalent at a primary care trust.

A majority of 97% of NHS trusts in the country meet the two-week deadline, implying that only a few hundred patients would require private treatment, UK newspaper The Independent reports.

Currently, only elective surgical procedures such as hip replacements and cataract surgery are provided through private treatment centres.