By Emily Ledger
Sapphire Medical Clinics has become the first medical cannabis access clinic in the UK to be approved for video consultations. The approval from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is expected to help improve patient access to medical cannabis products across the UK.
Medical cannabis clinics remain few and far between across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, despite cannabis being legalised for medical use in 2018. This means that many patients have so far experienced long and stressful journeys to attend consultations at approved clinics in order to access medical cannabis products.
However, Sapphire Medical Clinics hope to provide a more convenient and accessible route to patients struggling to access the medications. Where clinically appropriate and when referred by their GP, patients may now attend their consultation with a specialist doctor at the clinic through a video call.
Dr. Mike Platt, The Medical Director of the clinics and Consultant Pain Specialist acknowledged the difference that the change could make to patients:
“Many patients that I see are severely limited in their function and mobility so this news will provide a lifeline which allows them, under appropriate circumstances to access medications that can potentially transform their quality of life.”
While access to medical cannabis through the NHS remains rare and littered with barriers, private clinics offer patients a viable route to access the medication that works for them. Specialists cover conditions including cancer, epilepsy, pain conditions, psychiatric conditions, and neurological conditions, among others.
Managing Director of Sapphire Medical Clinics, Mikael Sodergren stressed the importance of the new consultation initiative:
“For many patients with chronic conditions travelling long distances is tiring, costly and for some also frightening. For others, it is simply not possible due to their underlying condition, mental health or physical disability.”
Sapphire Medical Clinics opened its first patient access clinic in London in August 2019 and has plans to open further clinics in other cities including Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool.