A MOTHER from Co. Tyrone has welcomed the decision of the Home Office to return cannabis oil she had brought from Canada for her ill son.
Charlotte Caldwell had the oil confiscated when she flew into Heathrow Airport on Monday.
She was returning with Billy, 12, from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, where doctors had placed him on a clinical trial of the medication.
However the Home Office in Britain has today deemed Billy’s case a medical emergency and granted a licence for the oil.
In a statement, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This morning, I’ve used an exceptional power as home secretary to urgently issue a licence to allow Billy Caldwell to be treated with cannabis oil.
“This is a very complex situation, but our immediate priority is making sure Billy receives the most effective treatment possible in a safe way.
“We have been in close contact with Billy’s medical team overnight and my decision is based on the advice of senior clinicians who have made clear this is a medical emergency.”
The oil has since been delivered to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where Billy is being treated, but may not be taken home.
Billy was prescribed medicinal cannabis oil last year – a first for the NHS.
However in May, the Home Office told his GP to stop the prescription.
'Children are dying'
Ms Caldwell, whose son can suffer up to 100 seizures a day without the oil, welcomed today’s decision.
“I truly believe that somewhere in the Home Office there’s someone with a heart and I truly believe that Billy was pulling on their heart strings,” she said.
But she added: “My experience leaves me in no doubt that the Home Office can no longer play a role in the administration of medication for sick children in our country.
“Children are dying in our country and it needs to stop now.”
Sinn Féin’s Órfhlaith Begley, who has been working with Ms Caldwell, called the Home Office’s initial decision ‘cruel’.
“Billy should never have been put in that position,” said the MP for West Tyrone.
“The treatment was clearly working for him and he deteriorated badly once it ended, yet it still took intense lobbying to get the Home Office to reverse this cruel decision.”
She added: “This is a life-saving intervention for Billy and he can now concentrate on his recovery and hopefully being discharged from hospital in the near future.
“I will continue to engage with the Home Office and the health authorities to ensure he can access his medication in the longer term so there is no repeat of the trauma he has suffered over recent weeks.”