| 5.3°C Belfast

Tyrone mum Charlotte Caldwell ends legal battle for medicinal cannabis for severely epileptic son Billy

Close

Charlotte Caldwell pictured with her son Billy at previous sitting at the High Court in Belfast. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Charlotte Caldwell pictured with her son Billy at previous sitting at the High Court in Belfast. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Charlotte Caldwell pictured with her son Billy at previous sitting at the High Court in Belfast. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The Co Tyrone mother of a severely epileptic boy on Monday ended her legal battle to obtain medicinal cannabis for him on the NHS.

With Charlotte Caldwell now directly urging health chiefs to ensure funding for her 15-year-old son Billy's prescription, judicial review proceedings were withdrawn at the High Court in Belfast.

A judge was told her new focus is based recommendations from a panel of leading paediatric neurologists that the medication should continue.

Mrs Justice Keegan confirmed: "There will not be a need for further litigation, which is the last thing this family needs."

In 2018 a relaxation in the rules allowed some cannabis-derived medicines to be prescribed to patients in the UK by specialist doctors in limited circumstances.

It followed the high-profile case of the Caldwells, from Castlederg, who had cannabis oil brought back from Canada confiscated at London's Heathrow Airport.

Billy was then admitted to hospital after suffering seizures.

Despite the new guidelines, access to treatment has remained uncertain.

Although the Canadian manufacturers were providing the product to Billy free of charge, those arrangements could not continue long-term.

Mrs Caldwell brought a case against the Health and Social Care Board over an alleged failure to take a decision on the medication.

She wanted a declaration that a GP or clinician can lawfully write prescriptions for cannabis-based treatment under the direction of an expert in epilepsy diagnosis and management.

Other experts have already provided an opinion on the benefits of the treatment for Billy.

Last month his case was referred to the Refractory Epilepsy Specialist Clinical Advisory Service (RECAS) - a panel led by a top neurologist from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Based on its recommendation that Billy's current medicine should continue, Mrs Caldwell has written to Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, calling on them to restore her son's prescription.

In court on Monday her barrister indicated the legal challenge was no longer necessary.

Monye Anyadike-Danes QC said: "My client thinks this matter can best be pursued through the RECAS panel."

Following the formal ending of proceedings Mrs Caldwell's solicitor expressed hope that a final resolution will be achieved.

Kevin Winters added: "The legal proceedings have now run their course, to facilitate Billy's mother pursuing a different course of action."

Belfast Telegraph