Former minister urges PM to allow sick children to access free medical cannabis

Sophie Morris, PA Political Reporter
·2-min read

A Conservative former minister has urged Boris Johnson to step in “as a father” and ensure all sick children in need of medical cannabis have access to it.

Sir Mike Penning told the Commons that only three children currently have prescriptions free on the NHS, with 150 others having to pay “about £2,000 a month” to access the substance privately.

He urged the Prime Minister to “do everything possible” to ensure parents do not have to “beg and borrow from their families and remortgage their homes” to afford medicinal cannabis and that lives are not lost.

Mr Johnson vowed to “resolve the issue” with the help of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Mike (Hemel Hempstead) told the Commons: “Before the Prime Minister became Prime Minister we had a discussion to do with the prescribed medical use of cannabis and how it was helping to save really seriously ill children – not hundreds of thousands, but about 150.

“We changed the law in November 2018 to make it legal for these prescriptions to be written, prescriptions written by top consultants.

“Today, we have three children that have it free on the NHS and around about 150 children that have to beg and borrow from their families and remortgage their homes so that they can actually pay around about £2,000 a month.

“Prime Minister, this is wrong. As a father, like I am, you would do everything possible for your families and these families are doing everything possible for their children.

“Can we have a follow-up meeting from the one in 2018 where I will bring one of the mothers who actually gets it free – not to stop her getting it free, but to allow her to explain to the Prime Minister how wrong this is that children’s lives are going to be lost if we have to go through the process that the NHS is proposing?”

Mr Johnson replied that Sir Mike was “right” to raise the matter, adding that the Government “will make sure that we have a proper meeting with the Department of Health so that we can resolve the issue”.

Sam Mountney, senior policy and campaigns officer at Epilepsy Action, said: “It’s clear that the current system for accessing these treatments on the NHS just isn’t working.

“Almost two-and-a-half years since the change in the law, many families affected are still having to pay up to £2,000 a month for private prescriptions. These are prescriptions for products that have been shown on a case-by-case basis to reduce seizures and improve quality of life.

“The Government intervened in 2018 to allow these products to be prescribed and it needs to do the same now. We urge the Prime Minister to support these families by addressing the ongoing issues around NHS access and funding.”