Alfie Dingley: Home Office considers medical cannabis trial

Alfie DingleyImage source, Maggie Deacon/PA Wire
Image caption,
At one point, Alfie had 3,000 seizures and 48 hospital visits in a year

The Home Office says it is considering allowing a medical cannabis trial to treat a six-year-old boy with a rare form of epilepsy.

It previously turned down requests by the family of Alfie Dingley, from Warwickshire, to legally take the drug.

But now ministers say they are "exploring every option", following a meeting with the family.

An option could be a three-month trial, led by Alfie's doctors and based on "sufficient and rigorous evidence".

Alfie's mother, Hannah Deacon, described the move as a "lifeline".

Media caption,
Hannah Deacon tells Victoria Derbyshire "I'm tired of seeing my son suffer"

However the Home Office has stressed that "no decisions have been made".

Alfie, from Kenilworth, can suffer up to 30 violent seizures a day.

Ms Deacon took him to the Netherlands to take a cannabis-based medication in September and said, while there, his seizures reduced in number, duration and severity.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Deacon said: "We're very positive that [the Home Office] have given us this lifeline. I think they see what a serious issue we have here."

She described witnessing the seizures as "the worst thing I've ever experienced in my life."

"I'm his mum, I'm not a politician, not an activist, I'm just a mum tired of seeing him suffer and I've found something that helps him.

"It's his human right to be well."

Image source, Maggie Deacon/PA Wire
Image caption,
Alfie's condition is very rare, affecting only nine boys in the world

Home Office Policing Minister Nick Hurd MP met with the family on Monday.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The Government has a huge amount of sympathy for the rare and difficult situation that Alfie and his family are faced with.

"The Policing Minister wants to explore every option and has met with Alfie's family to discuss treatments that may be accessible for him.

"No decisions have been made and any proposal would need to be led by senior clinicians using sufficient and rigorous evidence."

Ms Deacon described the plan as a "sincere offer because they want to help us".

Image source, UK Parliament
Image caption,
Nick Hurd wants to "explore every option" for Alfie's treatment

Members of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on drug policy reform are calling on the government to assist with Alfie's plight.

Group co-chair, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt said: "It would be heartless and cruel not to allow Alfie to access the medication."

Cannabis is listed as a Schedule 1 drug and, in its raw form, is not recognised in the UK as having any medicinal benefit.

The Home Office said it cannot be practically prescribed, administered or supplied to the public and can only be used for research under a licence.