Government considers allowing cannabis treatment for Alfie Dingley

A medical cannabis trial is being considered as a potential option for treating a six-year-old boy with a rare form of epilepsy.

The Home Office says ministers are exploring "every option" for treating Alfie Dingley, whose parents had wanted the Government to grant the youngster a licence to use cannabis oil to help soothe many of his symptoms.

The request was denied by the Home Office, as the drug "cannot be practically prescribed, administered or supplied to the public" due to being a banned substance.

But Policing Minister Nick Hurd has since met with the family to discuss possible treatments.

One option could be a medical trial, led by Alfie's medical team, although the Home Office has stressed that no decisions have yet been made.

Alfie Dingley, six, has a rare form of epilepsy (Maggie Deacon/PA)
Alfie Dingley, six, has a rare form of epilepsy (Maggie Deacon/PA)

A spokesman 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, from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, said: "We are hoping that this is the beginning of the end of our long fight to save our son."

Cannabis oil is currently illegal in the UK, despite being available for medical purposes throughout Europe, including in the Netherlands where Alfie and his family spent five months paying for treatment.

They said the medication, which was prescribed by a paediatric neurologist, reduced his seizures in number, duration and severity.

Alfie Dingley and his mother Hannah Deacon (Maggie Deacon/PA)
Alfie Dingley and his mother Hannah Deacon (Maggie Deacon/PA)

Mr Hurd previously told MPs that he "sympathised deeply" on a personal level with the situation faced by the family.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: "We are aware that the position is shifting in other countries, we monitor that closely.

"We are also aware that cannabis is an extremely complex substance and the WHO quite rightly are looking at it from every angle."

Members of the all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform had called on the Home Office to assist with Alfie's plight, in an effort to reduce his seizures and hospital visits brought on by his condition.

Alfie's seizures, which can number up to 20 or 30 a day, can gradually be controlled in UK hospitals, but over time it is likely he would be institutionalised with psychosis and die prematurely.