Only three NHS cannabis prescriptions issued, say MPs

The Prime Minister is being asked to fund families who have thousands of pounds out of their own pockets to get medical cannabis – despite a change in the law more than two years ago.

More than 100 politicians from bipartisan groups have signed a letter to Boris Johnson alleging that only three NHS medical cannabis prescriptions have been issued, despite being legalized in November 2018.

The change in law was made possible after several high profile cases, including that of young epilepsy sufferers Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose conditions appear to have been improved by cannabis oil.

The then Interior Minister Sajid Javid announced in 2018 that doctors can prescribe cannabis medicines, even for those with severe epilepsy.

The all-party faction (APPG) on prescription medical cannabis said the change in law raised hopes for families with children who suffer from similarly extreme forms of epilepsy.

In their letter, the APPG said, “To the best of our knowledge, however, in the time since the law was changed, only three NHS prescriptions have been issued for the type of medicinal cannabis that have been shown to be life-changing for Alfie.

“Dozens of other families had to pay for the drug privately, collecting up to £ 2,000 a month.

“In any case, this is a heavy financial burden on families already struggling with very sick children, and Covid’s restrictions have made fundraising largely impossible.”

Describing the reasons for the lack of NHS regulation as “complex”, she called on the government to provide “compassionate resources” to families until the broader issues can be resolved.

The new law does not limit the types of conditions that can be considered for treatment, and it means doctors no longer need to get approval from a panel of experts in order for patients to have access to medicines.

The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs was asked for an opinion.

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