The scheme will give patients the chance to have their say on the state of medical cannabis in the UK.
A new scheme will give patients the chance to have their say on the state of medical cannabis in the UK, for the first time.
The Patients First initiative, launching today (Thursday 17 February) hopes to improve the UK medical cannabis industry by giving patients a voice in shaping the future of their care.
Research and advocacy organisation Volteface and cannabis consultancy group Maple Tree Consultants have partnered to launch the scheme, which will pay medical cannabis patients for participating in professionally facilitated focus groups.
The organisations say the initiative is being launched in response to the significant amount of patient dissatisfaction voiced across Facebook groups and Reddit forums in regards to the quality of UK medical cannabis.
In the past two years demand has grown exponentially, with around 10,000 people thought to have a legal prescription for cannabis in the UK.
The industry has been hit with supply issues in recent months, with some patients reporting significant delays to their prescriptions.
An incident of suspected mould found in two batches of cannabis products last year, also left some questioning the quality of their medication. The products were recalled and investigations carried out.
Patient advocacy organisations such as PLEA (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) have called for more transparency in the industry and for clear processes to be put in place to allow patients to provide feedback or raise concerns.
Katya Kowalski, head of operations at Volteface, said: “At the moment there is a significant disconnect between patients and industry groups in the UK medical cannabis sector. Patients often feel their perspectives are not being heard by the industry. We recognise this is an issue and have set up Patients First to promote a patient-led practice in the industry with a clear vehicle to engage with them.”
Through Patients First, individuals will be invited to give constructive and accurate feedback on their experiences with medical cannabis.
The insights collected from focus groups will then aim to guide the industry in a more sustainable manner, and for the first time, give patients a formal outlet to voice their concerns and have a meaningful say in how the cannabis sector develops.
Hannah Deacon, whose high profile campaign for her son Alfie Dingley helped change the law on medical cannabis, admits she has found it difficult to engage with the industry in the past.
Deacon, who is director at Maple Tree Consultants, commented: “In my time as a campaigner, I have found it difficult to connect with the industry. This new initiative will help patients feel heard, whilst compensating them for their time. We aim to create a sector which serves its purpose and supports its patients and their needs.”
Mike Barnes, a fellow director at Maple Tree, said that it was “about time” the industry “listened to the voice of the patients” and urged those in the sector to “take advantage” of this opportunity to hear from patients first-hand.