Northern Ireland news

Department of Health deny it is 'blocking' return home of Billy Caldwell

Charlotte Caldwell has claimed that the Department of Health in Northern Ireland is not facilitating a licence for cannabis oil to enable her son Billy to return home
Seanín Graham

THE mother of Co Tyrone boy Billy Caldwell says the Department of Health is preventing his return home by "blanking" them over his access to medicinal cannabis.

However, the fepartment last night issued a statement in which it denied Charlotte Caldwell's allegations - describing them "without foundation".

A Department spokeswoman insisted it is "actively working" on the case.

In a radio interview yesterday, Ms Caldwell said she was "bewildered" by the "break down in communication" with the Department and accused them of failing to act regarding the licensing of cannabis oil to treat her severely epileptic 12-year-old son.

The mother-and-son have spent almost a month in London after medicinal cannabis Ms Caldwell had bought in Canada was seized at Heathrow airport.

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

Ms Caldwell said that while her son's seizures are now "under control" following treatment with the oil, he urgently needs to return home to Castlederg to be in his "own environment" as he is also severly autistic.

She said: "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,

we are utterly mystified why the Department of Health in Northern Ireland is blanking us."

The Department spokewoman said: "We are 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."

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