Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh mother vows to go on 'hunger strike' over cannabis oil

Karen Gray
Image caption Karen Gray's son Murray suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Doose Syndrome.

The mother of a boy with severe epilepsy says she will go on "hunger strike" outside Downing Street to secure NHS funding for medical cannabis.

Karen Gray's seven-year-old son Murray suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Doose Syndrome.

She says he has not had a fit since he started using cannabis oil.

The UK government said more evidence was needed to support "prescribing decisions" related to medical cannabis.

Ms Gray, who spends £1,300 a month on a private prescription from a London hospital, says she will start the protest on Friday.

She will be joined in London by other families from the End Our Pain group, who are campaigning to have the oil fully funded.

Image caption Murray has a rare and severe form of epilepsy

Ms Gray, from Edinburgh, told BBC Scotland the government is "not listening" to families.

She said: "Me and a group of other mums are planning on doing a hunger strike outside Downing Street to force Matt Hancock (health secretary) into providing funding."

The mother claimed Mr Hancock acknowledged the situation facing the families seven months ago but accused him doing "absolutely nothing".

Ms Gray added: "Whenever we run out of money what is going to happen to our children?

"I can't run out of oil for Murray. He will end up back in hospital."

Before taking the drug she said Murray was having about 600 seizures a day.

The date of the protest coincides with the first anniversary of the law being changed to allow clinicians to prescribe medical cannabis.

Image caption Murray takes the cannabis oil to try to allievate his symptoms

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "We sympathise with those families dealing so courageously with challenging conditions. The law has been changed to allow specialist doctors to prescribed cannabis-based products for medicinal use where clinically appropriate.

"However, there is a clear consensus on the need for more evidence to support such prescribing decisions.

"Government is working with the health system, the industry, researchers, and others to improve the evidence base for these products so that decisions can be made about public funding and to provide clinicians with further support and guidance on prescribing these products where clinically appropriate."

Ms Gray is the latest in a series of parents to have spoken to BBC Scotland about the problems they face sourcing medical cannabis for their children.

In June BBC Disclosure revealed that former police officer Lisa Quarrell started bringing a cannabis product into Scotland.

Ms Quarrell, from East Kilbride, travelled to the Netherlands to buy medical cannabis oil to give to her six-year-old son Cole, who has severe epilepsy.

Last year Julie Galloway left Scotland with seven-year-old Alexa, who has epilepsy and a rare neurological condition, to stay with relatives in Rotterdam.

She said she felt trapped and feared returning home without the medication would put her daughter's life in danger.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites