Belfast Telegraph

Billy Caldwell's mum reveals 'chaotic' medicinal cannabis licence request

By Victoria Leonard

The mother of severely epileptic boy Billy Caldwell has written to Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer seeking clarity over the Home Office medicinal cannabis expert panel.

Charlotte Caldwell claims she has experienced weeks of “chaos, confusion and obfuscation” in Northern Ireland.

Her 12-year-old son is at the heart of a campaign to legalise cannabis oil for medicinal use in the UK.

Earlier this month Billy returned home from London where he had received medical treatment for three weeks.

The Home Office gave him a short-term licence and the Department of Health (DoH) issued an emergency licence to allow him access to cannabis oil, which Ms Caldwell says helps to control his seizures.

The Belfast Health Trust secured a licence to administer the medication to Billy at the Royal Victoria Hospital. He was then given permission to receive the medication at his Castlederg home.

However, Ms Caldwell yesterday said that she was “not actually clear” whether Billy’s application to the Home Office expert panel, which considers applications for medicinal cannabis licences, had been heard.

Dr McBride heads the panel.

She said: “There’s no escaping that I have been the most high-profile applicant, on behalf of my son Billy, yet I’m not actually clear as to whether Billy’s application has been heard. The process can only be described as being chaotic and Kafkaesque. I have asked several executives at both Belfast Trust and the Northern Ireland Department of Health as to what the current status of Billy’s ongoing medication provision is: we have 23 days’ worth of meds left and we don’t know what will happen after that.”

In an open letter to Dr McBride, Ms Caldwell wrote: “Back here confusion and obfuscation reigns. I still really don’t know what has happened to the Belfast Trust’s application to the expert panel. Last weekend I sought clarity from numerous officials regarding its status. Every simple question posed was responded to by a complicated and evasive answer.”

In response, the DoH said they met with Ms Caldwell to explain the procedures around licence applications and will “continue to work hard and diligently with the Belfast Trust and others to expedite what is a very complex matter”.

Belfast Telegraph

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