Medical cannabis ‘is still not being given to children who desperately need it’
Thursday 6 Feb 2020 1:44 pm
Twenty families protested NHS rules on medical cannabis at Portcullis House in central London on Wednesday (Picture: PA)
Parents with severely epileptic children claim they are still denied NHS prescriptions for medical cannabis – despite the law changing in 2018. Twenty families gathered at Portcullis House in central London on Wednesday to pressure the government into ensuring the medicine is given to those who need it. Many NHS doctors have reportedly been reluctant to prescribe the drug, citing issues over funding and a lack of guidance. Despite the law changing two years ago, by September last year just two patients held NHS prescriptions for tetrahydrocannabinol-bearing medical cannabis in the UK.
Families with severely epileptic children holding placards march to Downing Street, London, to hand in a petition calling for access to medical cannabis on the NHS (Picture: PA) Many NHS doctors have reportedly been reluctant to prescribe medical cannabis (Picture: PA)
Some parents claim the situation has left them paying more than £2,000 each month to have ‘full-extract’ cannabis treatment legally imported to the UK through private prescriptions – despite a ‘promise’ from the government it would be available on the NHS. The financial pressure has left families fearing they will be unable to continue the treatment, which they say significantly reduces the number of seizures their children have. Rachel Rankmore, 44, claims she pays £2,300 per month for a private prescription of full-extract cannabis medicine for her son Bailey Williams, 18, after being told by NHS doctors they would not prescribe the medication ‘as there was not enough clinical evidence’ about it. Queen’s Christmas bubble revealed with ‘ingenious plan’ for Boxing Day The mother, from Cardiff, says Bailey has an intractable form of epilepsy and had hundreds of seizures a day until he started using the medication. She said ‘He was confined to his bed, but now he only has a handful of seizures. He has had an incredible improvement in his quality of life.’ ‘It is a huge financial strain for us and the money for the private prescription runs out in April.’ Doctor Callie Seaman, a medicinal cannabist advocat, holding a message signed by various MPs in Old Palace Yard, Westminster (Picture: PA) Rachel Rankmore, 44, said her son Bailey, 18, an incredible improvement in his quality of life.’ (Picture: PA) Peter Carroll, director of the End Our Pain campaign group, has claimed the situation is ‘a national scandal, and a cruel one at that’. He said: ‘These families have children with intractable drug-resistant epilepsy.
The NHS trusts seem to be saying that the Nice (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) are the problem, and Nice are saying that their guidance doesn’t prevent NHS prescriptions.’ Mr Carroll added families had faced ‘delay, obstruction and outright refusal by the NHS’ to prescribe the medication and legal action would be taken against Nice and an unnamed NHS trust.
The protest in Westminster follows a mother’s accusations that Health Secretary Matt Hancock lied to her by saying cannabis-based medication would be available ‘in several months time’ on the NHS. Joanne Griffiths said: ‘We’re nearly 12 months on and we still don’t have that prescription.’ When questioned if he had lied on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday, Mr Hancock replied: ‘No, I met her and many other parents whose children benefit from these cannabis-based drugs. ‘There was then a report from the National Institute which decides what is paid for on the NHS that came out exactly as she said a few months after our meeting, and that report said that the costs that are being charged by the companies are too high. ‘Since then I’ve been working incredibly hard to try to get these drugs available on the NHS.’
Activists hold placards in front of a van displaying a video in Old Palace Yard (Picture: PA) A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We continue to work hard with the health system, industry and researchers to improve the evidence base for other cannabis-based medicines.’ In November, NHS England said access to Epidyolex, which contains only the CBD extract, had been fast-tracked to be available from January 6 this year. The medicine was recommended for use on the NHS to treat two rare types of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
Another cannabis-based medicine, the Sativex spray, was recommended for muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Last year, guidance from Nice found a lack of evidence regarding the use of cannabis-based products in the management of chronic pain, claiming people suffering from this should not be prescribed drugs containing THC. It also said more research was needed on cannabis-based medicines to treat forms of epilepsy other than Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet.
Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2020/02/06/medical-cannabis-still-not-given-children-desperately-need-12190900/?ito=cbshare