By Emily Ledger
A doctor, based at Harley Street in London, is facing an inquiry after allegedly delivering medical cannabis to young children without carrying out appropriate consultations with specialists. The doctor in question – Dr Nathan Hasson has voluntarily offered not to prescribe the drug to any new patients while the General Medical Council (GMC) assesses the claims.
Hasson is a paediatric rheumatologist at the Medical Cannabis Clinic based in Harley Street, London. According to The Times, it has been alleged that Hasson put children “at risk of harm” by administering medical cannabis products to children as young as 17-months-old, without consulting the necessary experts.
Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in November 2018, however, prescriptions must first be approved by a specialist clinician. It is reported that around 2,500 patients now have access to cannabis-based medical products through private prescriptions.
Despite being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for use in conditions such as treatment-resistant epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, access to medical cannabis through the NHS remains extremely limited.
A formal complaint was submitted to the British Paediatric Neurology Association accusing Dr Hasson of prescribing products containing THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – to children without consulting neurologists involved in their care.
The complaint questions whether the use of medical cannabis products was necessary in several cases – including in the cases of a 17-month-old and seven-year-old with a rare neurological disorder known as Landau-Kleffner syndrome.
According to documents reported by The Times, Professor Finbar O’Callaghan, President of the British Paediatric Neurology Association, said:
“Dr Hasson was potentially putting children at risk of harm with the way he practises outside his area of expertise and without consultation with the specialist doctors looking after these complex children.”
Dr Hasson has agreed not to see new epileptic child patients for 18 months while the GMC carried out its investigation. In a statement put forward to the GMC by his legal team, Hasson revealed, “I had already stopped seeing new patients due to an overwhelming caseload before the matter was brought by the GMC.”
He continued: “I am fully trained and legally allowed to prescribe cannabis products for children, as agreed by the Nice guidance on this. This was not questioned by the tribunal.
“I am still working in my primary profession of paediatrics and paediatric rheumatology, caring for children with arthritis and life-crippling pain. There is no restriction on my practice at all in this regard, nor was any such restriction sought by the GMC at the tribunal.”
A spokesperson for the Medical Cannabis Clinic also commented:
“Dr Hasson is an experienced paediatrician with more than 30 years’ experience and continues to care for his existing patients. The clinic is pleased to support healthcare professionals in helping so many patients lead a better quality of life.”