UK teen’s family pays out £4,000 a month for private medical cannabis

An epileptic teenager’s family say they are paying thousands of pounds each month for medical cannabis – because they cannot get it on the NHS.

Bailey Williams’ parents, from Cardiff, said his seizures have decreased since he started taking the privately prescribed drugs.

But they say the 17-year-old’s next monthly batch will cost them £4,000.

Bailey’s mum, Rachel Rankmore, told the BBC: “The last few months, he has started to speak, interact in conversation, play with his toys.

“He has a reduction in seizures, so he has a better quality of life.

“We’d got nothing left to lose, we just needed to try it.”

A Cardiff and Vale health board spokesman said: “We have discussed the concerns the family have raised about the management of his condition.

“We will continue to work with the family.”

“He has a better quality of life.”

Bailey Williams’ mother Rachel Rankmore

Patients can be prescribed medicinal cannabis by specialist doctors in the UK as of November 2018.

It is the first time UK medical experts have had the option to legally issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines if they think it could help their patient.

Before the ruling, almost all cannabis-based medicinal products were judged to have no therapeutic value.

However, there have only been a handful of prescriptions because of uncertainty over safety and effectiveness.

The law change came soon after the highly publicised case of severely epileptic teenager Billy Caldwell.

The boy fell ill when the UK Home Office confiscated cannabis oil he had been prescribed abroad.

His mother said his condition improved thanks to cannabis oil treatments.

In summer 2018, Home Secretary Sajid Javid called for a review of cannabis-based medicines and accepted the subsequent recommendations from UK medical experts.

However, GPs cannot make the decision to prescribe these unlicensed medicines – only specialist doctors in fields like neurology or paediatrics can do so.