The doctor responsible for saving Alfie Dingley’s life by prescribing medical cannabis has stated that the current lack of NHS prescriptions saddens him.
Mike Barnes, the honorary professor of neurology at the University of Newcastle, says that cannabis education is urgently needed in this field if the medical profession is going to make the best of new medical cannabis regulations.
Barnes recently addressed people in the Isle of Man on the 26th March and told them that 80% of the island’s politicians appeared to be in favour of medical cannabis – but only ‘in theory’.
In reality, doctors are not confident enough to prescribe cannabis, according to Barnes.
“The law in the UK is really quite liberal. Any specialist doctor can prescribe [cannabis] for any condition, which is probably the most liberal in
The problem is getting the doctors to prescribe….
For some it’s a morality question, they just don’t agree with cannabis being legal and just won’t prescribe it but actually, that’s quite unusual.”
Barnes estimates that a staggering 2 million people are consuming cannabis illegally for medical reasons every day in the UK.
Medical cannabis was legalised last November, however. And Barnes has been very disappointed with the lack of general availability to the people in need.
“Sadly, despite the legalisation in the UK, there hasn’t been a single NHS prescription which has been written. To the best of my knowledge, there’s been 10 in the private sector.
Which is good in some ways but bad in others because that means only at the moment it is accessible to those that can afford
We recently reported on the UK’s first medical cannabis clinic, which opened last month in Manchester, and charges patients £200 for an appointment with a physician, while a prescription costs £600 – £700.
Professor Barnes was essential in securing a prescription of life-saving medical cannabis oil for Alfie Dingley, a small boy with severe epilepsy.
Barnes spoke highly of the medical cannabis campaigns that let Alfie legally access his
“Families with epileptic children are incredibly knowledgeable about cannabis and do know a lot more than the doctors.
I think from the doctors’ point of view, many should embrace that and learn from that.
There are some
sadly, that arerather antagonistic to patients coming in telling them what to prescribe and how to prescribe it.
But we’re in an ironic situation, where many members of the public know more than the doctors.
For the last 50 + years, we’ve had cannabis portrayed to us as bad, anti-establishment, no good for anything, of no medicinal use, but now all of a sudden, doctors brought up in that tradition have been told ‘well actually, for certain conditions it is quite useful.”
Barnes states that whilst there have been essential changes to the law in the UK, there has been absolutely no new health education program for doctors.
For this reason, he is going to create a medical cannabis academy which will offer 12 free 20-minute lessons. The classes will teach health professionals and doctors ‘roughly the basics’ of medical cannabis as well as guidelines on issuing prescriptions.
“I’d like to see more of those in different formats; day seminars, week-long seminars, more detailed courses.
But I think it’s been rather sad that it’s been up to the individuals of the private sector to establish training
programs,when I think it would be nice to have seen a more formalised training program from Health Education England.”