Sir Mike Penning has hit out at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA) for “crushing the hopes of many thousands of patients” with guidelines on cannabis medicine that have made it all but impossible to access despite the change in the law.
After stories emerged of epileptic children being denied the new medicine in the first few days following the law change, Penning said: “We are now in the quite frankly cruel and ludicrous position of families with severely epileptic children once again having to fundraise to go abroad to get access to a medicine that we have just legalised in the UK. Those responsible for this botched and cruel outcome should hang their heads in shame.”
Penning told specialist doctors last month that their “disappointing” attitude towards cannabis medicine had to change.
Labour’s Tonia Antoniazzi, who co-chairs the all party parliamentary group on medicinal cannabis with Penning, said she was “outraged and dumbfounded in equal measure” by the restrictions.
The RCP maintains that there is no strong evidence cannabis can help with chronic pain – although it says it would welcome more research – and the BPNA says it should only be used when surgery is not possible.
An NHS spokesperson said the law change means specialists can prescribe the products for a “small number” of patients, where their needs are not met and there is evidence of benefit.