Greenock Telegraph 18th November

I have been campaigning for the provision of medical cannabis for most of my seven and a half years as a Member of Parliament and sadly the progress has not been as rapid as I would have liked. I have a particular focus on the supply of Bedrolite, Bedrocan and Bedica2. They are prescribed for children with intractable epilepsy. The results of children that have been using them are quite startling. Kids that were suffering over 100 seizures a day and were confined to a wheelchair as a result are now capable of cycling in the local park, attending school and conversing with truer parents and siblings. They are seizure free, the transformation is remarkable. But unfortunately, it is not all good news. Those kids that are getting the medicine are paying for it through private prescriptions. This can cost up to £2,000 a month. We have managed to set up manufacturing in the U.K. which removes the need to import it from the Netherlands but the cost is still prohibitively high. Because of my involvement in this campaign, it has been brought to my attention that other new medicines are experiencing the same issues. They exist, they have been passed by the MHRA as effective but not passed as cost effective by NICE. Therefore, they can only be accessed privately. This includes medicines for post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and even one, Evusheld which you may have read about in the Greenock Telegraph recently, for people who are still shielding from Covid because they have suppressed immune systems. The crucial fact is that those who can pay for their medicine can access it and those that can’t must go without. While I want this situation rectified, my wider concern is that what we are witnessing is the privatisation of the health centre, one step at a time. The health service was founded on the principle of free access at the point of need and that must not be allowed to be eroded or undermined at any cost.