Billy Caldwell referred to new UK-wide epilepsy service
Co Tyrone epilepsy sufferer Billy Caldwell has been referred to a new UK-wide service for considering difficult cases.
Charlotte Caldwell has campaigned for a change in the law which would allow her son to access medicinal cannabis on prescription.
In November, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued guidance on the use of such products for people with severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Great Ormond Street Hospital in London is hosting a new UK-wide clinical service to support paediatric neurologists considering prescribing cannabis-based medicines.
Ms Caldwell said: “Billy’s legal case initiated this new process to be set up. I am so proud of Billy.”
He has been referred to the Refractory Epilepsy Specialist Clinical Advisory Service.
It provides a forum for the discussion of difficult cases that have proven hard to treat.
Ms Caldwell has taken legal action in a bid to secure long-term access to the medication.
Recently rules were relaxed to allow some cannabis-derived medicines to be prescribed to patients in the UK by specialist doctors in limited circumstances.
Despite the new guidelines access to the new treatment remains uncertain.
Ms Caldwell said: “This gives new hope to children like Billy.
“It is beyond valuable to me to know that as long as Billy gets his cannabis oil every day he will be safe.
“He won’t have a seizure. It feels like a safety blanket.”
Billy’s case hit the headlines after a batch of a banned cannabis-based drug used to treat him was confiscated from his mother at Heathrow Airport.
Billy was subsequently admitted to hospital after suffering seizures.
The child, from Castlederg, started the treatment in 2016 in the US, where medical marijuana is legal.
Ms Caldwell made the trip to Toronto and back with Billy to get a six-month supply to treat up to 100 seizures a day, but said border officials seized the oil.