London facility will help patients with epilepsy, chronic pain, PTSD and more.
World-leading experts in neurology, stroke and psychiatry will form the expert medical team treating patients at the UK’s first specialist standalone medical cannabis clinic.
The Medical Cannabis Clinics – London which is due to open following final assessment by the Care Quality Commission, will be the second in a network of pioneering specialist clinics being opened in major UK cities this year by the LYPHE GROUP, and the first such facility in London.
It follows the launch of the group’s first clinic in Manchester in March 2019, which was also the first in the UK. The London clinic will be a standalone facility, treating patients living with a range of chronic and debilitating conditions, including chronic pain, neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Ahead of opening, the London clinic has already experienced unprecedented demand, with over 150 patients already on the waiting list. The announcement of the clinical team and its location has today been welcomed as a promising step forward towards improved access for patients across the UK.
Forzana Nasir, 32 – an Open University student from south London who suffers from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, commented: “This clinic will be a lifeline for people like me. Before I had access to medical cannabis, I was almost bedbound. I was prescribed 13 different medications to help manage my condition, but the side effects were excruciating. In some cases, they mimicked the symptoms they were supposed to treat. But now, my quality of life is improving daily and what was once intolerable is now bearable.”
The clinic, based on Harley Street, will be led by leading UK specialists including Professor Mike Barnes, consultant neurologist and rehabilitation physician, Dr Elizabeth Iveson, consultant specialist in complex care and neurorehabilitation, stroke and elderly medicine, Dr Elie Okirie, Clinical Director in neurological and specialist rehabilitation at the Central England Rehabilitation Unit, Dr Attam Singh, consultant in pain medicine and Clinical Associate of the London Pain Clinic, and Dr Rebecca Moore, a consultant psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. The team of consultants will be supported by GP Leon Barron, who will assess patients who are open to exploring medical cannabis treatments for conditions which are not responding to conventional treatments.
Despite the rescheduling of medical cannabis in November 2018, only a handful of patients have successfully accessed treatment via the NHS1,2, meaning this clinic will act as a lifeline to those who have thus far struggled to access this treatment. The opening of a second clinic in the south of England will also expand access to a greater number of patients around the country. A third clinic is due to open in Birmingham later this year, with additional clinics scheduled to be open across the country by the end of the year.
Despite Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP expressing his ‘immense frustration’ that patients still cannot access medical cannabis, multiple barriers to access on the NHS remain in place, including establishing exceptional clinical circumstances, exhausting all lawful alternatives, gaining agreement from an NHS Trust Medical Director, and engaging a specialist doctor to accept liability. These obstacles have so far made it highly unlikely for patients to be able to access this treatment via the NHS. This new service will offer a framework under which patients can access the medication they need and alleviate avoidable suffering.
The London team will specialise in innovative cannabis-based therapy, with the clinic open to patients who have exhausted all existing treatment options, and where medical cannabis has been proven to deliver significant therapeutic benefit, following self-referral or specialist referral.
Operating across multiple disciplines, including neurology, chronic pain and psychiatry, the clinic will provide potentially life-changing relief from chronic pain conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia, nerve conditions, muscle cramps (spasticity); treating neurological conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; and addressing psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Clinical Director of The Medical Cannabis Clinic – London, Professor Mike Barnes, commented: “Patients suffering from chronic pain, serious neurological or psychiatric conditions have been crying out for this kind of life-changing treatment. This clinic will represent a lifeline to the thousands of patients in the UK who have found other treatments ineffective. The hope is that over time patients all around the country and not just in London and Manchester will have access to the relief that they need.”
Professor Barnes helped pave the way for the legalisation of medical cannabis in the UK and made history in March 2018 when he obtained the first permanent medical license for Alfie Dingley, who suffered up to 500 life-threatening seizures a month as a result of his severe epilepsy. Following successful treatment with cannabis oil, Alfie has had only one hospital admission in a year, his seizures are controlled, and he can now live a more normal life. Although around 500,000 people in the UK have epilepsy, not one more person has been prescribed the treatment on the NHS since this case.
Commenting on the new clinic, Hannah Deacon, the mother of Alfie Dingley and a tireless campaigner for access to medical cannabis in the UK, said: “Families were delighted when the law changed last year – they thought their battle was over. But the reality is that they are still suffering terribly because they still struggle to access the medical cannabis that could help them like it has helped Alfie. That’s why I’m delighted that this team at ‘The Medical Cannabis Clinics – London’ will provide real hope to those in real need – and their families – by giving them access to the treatment they rightfully deserve.”
Dr Elizabeth Iveson, consultant specialist in complex care and neurorehabilitation, stroke and elderly medicine, added: “I have seen first-hand how transformative cannabis has been for my patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries, chronic pain and stroke. No-one should have to suffer when we have the medical means to safely treat them. But too often, I hear from those who need it most that they simply can’t get access. That is why I am proud to be part of a team that is committed to ensuring patients are able to get the treatment they desperately need.”
The LYPHE GROUP, which set up The Medical Cannabis Clinics, is the group which earlier this year created a historic milestone by facilitating the import of the UK’s first bulk shipment of cannabis-based medicine since the Home Office decision. In addition to launching a network of specialist medical cannabis clinics and importing this shipment of cannabis-based medicine to the UK, the LYPHE GROUP continues to support patients in need by improving access to medical cannabis by providing key infrastructure and educational services. These landmark moments for the UK’s fledgling medical cannabis industry will greatly improve access for patients.
Richard North, Managing Director of The Medical Cannabis Clinics, commented: “We are delighted to be supporting the establishment of The Medical Cannabis Clinic in London. The legalisation of prescription cannabis has given people with chronic illnesses hope; the next step is for the Government and health authorities to ensure the availability of medical cannabis to offer those without other alternatives the treatment they need.”
The Medical Cannabis Clinics specialise in innovative cannabis-based medical therapies, helping to meet the unmet medical needs of people living with a range of chronic and debilitating conditions. We are focused on expanding patient access to safe and effective medical cannabis treatments which have been found to improve the quality of life of people suffering from debilitating conditions including chronic pain, neurological and psychiatric conditions. Our clinical teams are made up of the most experienced and respected group of medical practitioners working with cannabis in the UK, including leading experts across pain, neurology and psychiatry
Professor Barnes founded The Academy of Medical Cannabis, the only online education platform which seeks to improve responsible use of medical cannabis. He is the world’s foremost expert in medical cannabis whose 2016 report ‘Cannabis: The Evidence for Medical Use’ helped pave the way for legalisation of medical cannabis. Last year, he obtained the UK’s first permanent medical cannabis license for Alfie Dingley. He is also leading on regulatory developments in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, assisting to a significant extent in Ireland, and to a limited extent in Malta, Macedonia and Portugal.
Dr Okirie is Clinical Director and Consultant of Neurological Rehabilitation at the Central England Rehabilitation Unit, where he leads a team providing highly specialised care for young adults with neurological conditions caused by acquired brain injuries due to trauma or stroke and other neuro-disabling conditions. He has a master’s degree in rehabilitation science from the University of Nottingham.
Dr Iveson is Consultant specialist in complex care and neurorehabilitation, stroke and elderly medicine within the NHS and private sector. She was appointed as a Consultant Stroke (all ages) and Elderly Care Physician at York Hospital in November 2006. Dr Iveson is the Elderly Medicine Lead for the York Integrated Complex Care Team. Dr Iveson has been actively involved in Stroke and Neurorehabilitation research for many years, both as Principal and Sub Investigator. She is an Honorary Lecturer for Hull and East Yorkshire Medical School and teaches medical students regularly.
Dr Singh is a is a Clinical Associate of the London Pain Clinic and a multi-award-winning Consultant, with awards including a Health Service Journal Award for Patient Safety. He is based at the Hip Fracture Unit in West Hertfordshire NHS Trust in addition to acting as Acute Pain Lead at Watford General Hospital. His specialist expertise within the field of medicine are musculoskeletal disorders and neuropathic pain, and offers holistic service that includes interventional pain management, analgesia optimisation and physical rehabilitation.
Dr Moore is the lead psychiatrist for the Tower Hamlets Perinatal Mental Health service. She has over 20 years clinical experience working with women during pregnancy and the postpartum period. She specialises in working with women with depression, anxiety, birth trauma or PTSD, OCD and psychosis.
Dr Barron is a GP and clinical lead for respiratory medicine at his NHS practice. He practises in the London area, focusing also on mental health and chronic pain, and advocates the need for a holistic approach to patient care. He is a tutor at UCL Medical School and an Executive Committee member of The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society.
Specialist Hannah is a tireless campaigner for access to medical cannabis in the UK. Last year she led a high-profile campaign on behalf of her young son Alfie Dingley, which helped change the law. Alfie, who has a very rare and severe form of epilepsy, was the first person in the UK to receive a permanent medical cannabis license.