Belfast Telegraph

Billy Caldwell return home blocked, says mum - Northern Ireland Department of Health 'working on resolution'

Billy Caldwell's return home to Northern Ireland is being blocked by the Department of Health his mum Charlotte Caldwell has said.

The Department of Health said it was working on a "timely solution" and had been in constant contact with the Home Office and advising Belfast Trust on the licence requirements and the best way to promptly complete this process.”

Mrs Caldwell said that the only thing stopping Billy returning home to Castlederg, Co Tyrone is ratification from the Department of Health.

12-year-old Billy has severe epilepsy and his seizures are treated with cannabis oil.

Last month a 20-day emergency licence was granted for Billy after he was admitted to hospital in a critical condition having suffered multiple seizures.

He and his mother Charlotte were expecting to head home shortly after the Home Office rubber-stamped a special exemption licence to allow his mother to administer the THC-based cannabis oil required to keep his seizures under control.

"The Home Office and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital have said we can go home. It needs the ratification of the Department of Health in Northern Ireland before we can book our flights, but it appears they are blocking our return," Ms Caldwell said.

"Not only are they not saying why, they are not responding to emails and phone calls from both myself and the Chelsea and Westminster with requests for any information whatsoever. We are completely in the dark. They have never interacted with either myself or engaged with my MP Orfhlaith Begley.

"Billy and I are desperate to get home to our own beds, and the stress is compounded by the difficulty we are having finding suitable and specific accommodation in London, near Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where Billy's meds must be administered. There is simply nothing available beyond tonight (Wednesday) because of the Wimbledon tennis."

Ms Caldwell said that she couldn't understand the decision.

"While the Home Office has quite categorically and openly stated that Billy and I can go home, and have agreed an emergency licence for me to administer Bill's meds at home in Castlederg, we are utterly mystified why the Department of Health in Northern Ireland is blanking us," she said.

Sinn Fein West Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley urged the health authorities to end the delay.

“The immediate priority now is to get Billy home as he has been through enough trauma over recent weeks and I am in regular contact with Charlotte and the health authorities on both sides of the Irish Sea to that end," Ms Begley said.

“The last time Billy was forced to come off his medication, there was a rapid and drastic deterioration in his health. We cannot allow any repeat of that."

Ms Begley said they were working on getting the matter resolved as soon as possible.

“The process now involves transferring the emergency licence Billy was granted to the Health authorities in the North to ensure his medication is available when he returns home," the MP said.

“Unfortunately there seems to be some reluctance on the part of the Health authorities in Belfast to process this transfer but I am in ongoing contact with both the Belfast Trust and the Health Department to press for this transfer to be processed without any further delay.”

A Department of Health Spokesperson said: “The Department is actively working for a timely resolution to this matter. Any suggestion to the contrary is without foundation.

"We are in constant contact with the Home Office and advising Belfast Trust on the licence requirements and the best way to promptly complete this process.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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