July 2, 2018

Epilepsy warrior Billy Caldwell plans to start the first day of the rest of his life this week after the UK Home Office and Chelsea & Westminster Hospital agreed he could go home to Castlederg - WITH his medicinal cannabis.

Billy and campaigning mum Charlotte will be granted an emergency licence to administer his meds at home - after the Department of Health in Northern Ireland started the application process, and the Home Office rubber stamped it in anticipation -  following a complicated but fruitful exchange between Charlotte, her MP Orfhlaith Begley, Billy's campaign team and officials on both sides of the Irish Sea.

"The Home Office clearly wanted this to happen, the amazing Chelsea & Westminster Hospital got behind it, and they've helped make it happen. We all now need to make this also happen for all the other families who need  medicinal cannabis," said Charlotte.

"We are in the very final stages of what has been an amazing four weeks. I can barely believe we'll be home in a few days.

"Billy has been amazingly resilient throughout. He's autistic, and everything that has been going on - no regularity, no familiar surroundings - are beginning to take their toll on him.

"He needs his toys, his garden, the things he's used to. I need to see him happy and well. I can't believe he'll be back in his own bed in a few days. It's within our grasp.

"The team's focus now is a campaign to get every other family equal opportunity, and equally swift progress through the assessment process."

The switching of emphasis towards driving access to medicinal cannabis for other families kicks off with a "Mummies' guide" explaining how to address the inevitable barriers they're encountering, and come out the other side with a successful application for medicinal cannabis access.

"Clinicians simply don't yet have guidelines, and no clinician will operate outside guidelines, so few are taking what they see as the risk of entering a patient into the assessment process - and even those who have seen the Government's announcement are hesitant," said Charlotte.

"We want to help them in any and every way they can."

A spokesman for Familes4Access, which represents many of the families battling to get access to THC-based medicinal cannabis said: "This is an astonishing breakthrough. There was a genuine will to make it happen at the Home Office, as there was in the Northern Ireland Department of Health.

"We're going to use the momentum and determination Charlotte built to drive an equally life-changing result for every other family finding themselves in equally challenging situations."