Conditions imposed by health authorities anger mother of boy with epilepsy and autism
Billy Caldwell, the autistic boy with epilepsy whose family was granted a licence for cannabis oil to treat his illness, has been “placed under hospital arrest”, according to his mother, due to conditions imposed by the Northern Irish authorities.
On Thursday, it was announced that the 12-year-old was heading home to Co Tyrone where he could be legally treated with a cannabis-based medicine.
But Belfast Trust, which will be responsible for providing the anti-epileptic seizure medicine, has said it will only administer the treatment at a hospital in Belfast, forcing the family to make a four-hour round trip from their home in Castlederg, twice a day, his mother said.
The Department of Health in Northern Ireland said arrangements to administer the treatment to the boy had been replicated from his stay at Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London.
But his mother, Charlotte Caldwell, said: “Billy has effectively been placed under hospital arrest.
“The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has refused to release Billy’s meds, which have to stay at or near a hospital in Belfast, for the duration of Billy’s treatment, which is basically for the rest of his life – or until somebody sees sense.
“This is completely at odds with the view of the Chelsea and Westminster hospital, which said he could go home, and the Home Office, which recommended he did.”
After a public outcry over the confiscation of the medicine at Heathrow airport, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, granted a licence for cannabis oil to be administered to the boy at home.
Following uncertainty over whether the Northern Irish authorities would follow the Home Office’s lead, it was announced on Thursday that the region’s Department of Health had issued an emergency licence so he could continue his treatment.
Caldwell added: “Billy needs his meds at 10am and 8pm each day. It takes a few seconds to administer. “I know far more about administering his meds than the hospital; I’ve been doing it for years.
Ireland Department of Health said: “Yesterday [we] received an emergency licence application from Belfast Trust clinicians regarding medicinal cannabis use for Billy Caldwell. An emergency licence has today been issued by the department, replicating the licence issued last month by the Home Office for treatment at Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London.
“We have also been in discussions with the Home Office to finalise arrangements for the immediate transportation of Billy’s medicine from London to the Belfast trust.”