Government must urgently establish an emergency compassionate access fund so that families can continue to access medical cannabis through the NHS.
On 1 November 2018, access to medical cannabis was made legal in the UK. This promised to be a landmark moment for patients across the country with conditions for which medical cannabis has shown efficacy.
One particular patient cohort with a high degree of interest in medical cannabis was, and is, the children affected by severe drug resistant epilepsy. After all, this law change came about after high profile campaigning by me and fellow parliamentarians along with those families whose lives had been transformed by medical cannabis.
But nearly three years on, what should have been a watershed moment has resulted in very little change for these affected families. It is to be deeply regretted that, by all accounts, only three NHS prescriptions have been issued across our country for the type of medical cannabis that is life transforming for the children affected. And so, notwithstanding that law change which I successfully campaigned for, families continue to be forced to pay up to £2500 a month to buy on a private prescription that desperately needed medical cannabis medicine for their severely ill children. This is not acceptable.
In my own South Leicestershire constituency, I have been working closely with two families who each have a child suffering from a rare form of epilepsy. They are campaigning under the ‘End Our Pain’ banner for an NHS prescription. Like many hundreds of families across our country, their situation is heart breaking. They, along with the other End Our Pain families, simply cannot afford to pay thousands a month just to keep their children safe. Their efforts to fundraise this money have also been curbed by Covid-19 restrictions, increasing the financial pressure and worry still further.