Billy Caldwell’s story caused an international stir recently after the UK Home Office confiscated a supply of life-saving cannabis oil that the boy’s mother Charlotte was bringing back from the Netherlands to treat his epileptic seizures.
As Billy’s condition worsened, immense public backlash and petitioning from Caldwell and others prompted the Home Office to return a portion of the cannabis oil and form an expert panel to review applications for exceptional cases where a cannabinoid-based medicine is needed for the patient’s survival and well-being.
But weeks later, young Billy is still without a license to use the oil, and the family says that the Belfast Health Trust is to blame. The Trust was charged with the application process but failed to provide enough information to the expert panel to enable them to grant the license.
“It’s not just that the application appears not to have been considered,” said a spokesperson for the Caldwells. “But the evasiveness of the Trust when asked simple questions about the process is most troubling.”
“There could hardly be a more high-profile case, and yet crucial deadlines were missed,” they said. “Despite written and face-to-face commitments being made by Belfast Trust.”
A spokesperson for the Trust told the Belfast Telegraph that Billy would continue to receive the cannabis oil under the current arrangements while the application is under consideration.
“The Belfast Trust have failed to act on my son’s application,” Charlotte Caldwell told Belfast Live. “Without Billy, there’d probably be no expert panel and no current move to change the law and have medication imported and prescribed on the NHS.”
“But now,” she said. “Applications are being brought for other children and my son has been left out in the cold.”
According to the family spokesperson, the Belfast Trust has now initiated an emergency-convened expert panel to review Billy’s application on Monday, July 16.