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Billy Caldwell: Home Office establishes expert panel to advise on cannabis prescriptions

The Home Office is to establish an expert panel of doctors to advise on prescriptions for cannabis-based medicine.

Home Office minister Nick Hurd told MPs the panel would advise ministers on any individual applications to prescribe cannabis-based medications.

It comes following the high profile case of Billy Caldwell, the Northern Ireland boy who suffers severe seizures. He had been taking cannabis oil prescribed by his doctor until the Home Office intervened to stop it.

Last week his mother returned from Canada and had the life-saving medication taken from her. Billy (12) was later rushed to hospital on Friday after his debilitating seizures returned. 

Home Secretary Sajid Javid used emergency powers to allow the child to have one bottle released for treatment on Saturday.

The schoolboy was discharged from hospital on Monday.

Mother Charlotte has demanded an urgent meeting with both Mr Javid and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ensure she does not have to face another agonising wait on treatment and for a change to the law.

"I can announce the government is establishing an expert panel of clinicians to advise ministers on any individual applications to prescribe cannabis-based medicine," Nick Hurd told the Commons during an urgent question in the chamber.

He said a clinician "must be at the heart of the issue".

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott responded deriding the announcement as "simply not fit for purpose".

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