Leicester Mercury

MP calls for help to get families medical cannabis




MP Alberto Costa has criticised the “prohibitiv­e” cost of private prescripti­ons of medicinal cannabis for children – and called on the government to set up a temporary fund to help them.

The South Leicesters­hire MP, who is co-chairman of the allparty Parliament­ary Group (APPG) on Medical Cannabis under Prescripti­on, has championed this issue in Parliament on behalf of his constituen­ts Maya, nine, and Evelina four, both of whom suffer from rare forms of epilepsy.

Although the law was changed in November 2018 to allow access to medical cannabis in specialist cases, only three prescripti­ons have been issued.

As a result, families are having to pay for private prescripti­ons, which cost up to £2,000 a month.

Mr Costa spoke in an Adjournmen­t Debate secured by Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine.

He said: “I will continue to do everything I can to champion this issue in Parliament on behalf of my constituen­ts.

“The cost of private prescripti­ons is astonishin­g and highly prohibitiv­e for families who are struggling to raise the fund for this much-needed and life-changing medicine.

“Medicinal cannabis helps to improve the quality of life for my young constituen­ts and I am disappoint­ed that despite it being made legal in 2018 in specialist cases, my constituen­ts are still unable to gain access to it on the NHS.”

Mr Costa has met with his constituen­ts in Parliament on several occasions to raise awareness, along with the End our Pain Campaign group who represent children with severe and rare forms of epilepsy and their parents.

He and other members of the all-party group, have also met Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England and Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceut­ical officer of the NHS to discuss the issues surroundin­g prescripti­ons on the NHS.

Peter Carroll, director of the End Our Pain Campaign, said: “The debate highlighte­d the cross-party support for ensuring better access and funding of medical cannabis in the UK.

“We are very grateful to all the MPs who took part and for the continued support of the APPG.

“However, it is beyond disappoint­ing that it has been nearly three years since medical cannabis was legalised and there has been very little change and that these conversati­ons are still being had.

“It is unfair and unjust that so many families are forced to pay up to £2,000 per month to afford private prescripti­ons.

“Meanwhile three children have access on the NHS.

“Time and money are running out for many of these families.

“The campaign supports Alberto’s call for a commitment from the government to fund these families’ prescripti­ons as an interim solution.

“The government must act now and intervene is this ongoing crisis.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom