King Juan Carlos is to undergo hip surgery for a fourth time on Tuesday. After toying with entrusting the job to the public health system, the monarch has finally elected to return to the private Hospital Universitario Quirón, in Madrid, where the previous procedures were carried out. He made the decision on the advice of the surgeon overseeing the operation, Miguel Cabanela.
The Royal Household had weighed up various options, while remaining aware of the futility of pleasing everybody. If a public center had been chosen, Spain’s lengthening waiting lists would have provided ammunition for the king’s critics, while electing a private center could be interpreted as a snub to the public system in the midst of massive cutbacks under the conservative Popular Party government of Mariano Rajoy.
The leader of the United Left grouping, Cayo Lara, on Friday lamented the king’s preference for the private option, “instead of setting an example and backing the public healthcare system.”
The king, 75, has undergone five operations in the last 18 months and had an artificial hip inserted last November. In April 2012 he broke his hip when falling while on an elephant-hunting trip to Botswana, after which he was forced to apologize to Spanish citizens. The reason given for his latest surgery, which is expected to keep him in hospital for up to a week with a recovery time of two to six months, is an infection relating to the prosthesis in his left side.