Much Hoole mum protests outside polling station, claiming Tories have failed her ill son

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The family of a severely-disabled boy are protesting outside South Ribble polling stations today, claiming the Tory Government have let him down.

Mum Joanne Griffiths is standing outside St Andrew's Church Hall in Longton, her daughter is outside a polling station in Walmer Bridge and her mother is outside a polling station in Much Hoole.

Joanne Griffiths protesting outside Longton's polling station, claiming the Tory Government has let down her son Ben.

Joanne Griffiths protesting outside Longton's polling station, claiming the Tory Government has let down her son Ben.

They are all carrying boards claiming they are having to pay up to £2,500 a month to keep nine-year-old Ben healthy, after the NHS refused to prescribe him the cannabis-based treatment he needs to control his seizures.

Mrs Griffiths also says South Ribble MP and Under Secretary of State for Health, Seema Kennedy, has failed to pick the phone up to them or arrange a meeting in nearly 12 months.

Mrs Kennedy claims she has been working with the family since July 2018 and has personally raised the matter with the Secretary of State for Health and hospital bosses.

Ben, from Much Hoole, has severe drug-resistant epilepsy and can have up to 300 seizures a day without medication, which could kill him.

Joanne and son Ben

Joanne and son Ben

Mrs Griffiths said: "This is a desperate situation. We are being forced to do this because we are being let down by our MP and the Tory Government.

"We want people to know, as they go to vote, what is happening.

"Seema Kennedy has written letters on our behalf to the Department of Health, but in almost 12 months of contacting her, she has never once picked up the phone to us or arranged a meeting with us - yet she can go and find the time to open a new tea room."

Mrs Griffiths Joanne said her child has spent years suffering head injuries and “has no life” lying in bed all day. She fears the fits are causing Ben – who suffers cerebral palsy – further brain damage.

Joanne Griffiths claims the Tory Government has let down her son Ben. She is protesting on polling day, with Seema Kennedy's office in the background.

Joanne Griffiths claims the Tory Government has let down her son Ben. She is protesting on polling day, with Seema Kennedy's office in the background.

She says she has the backing of her son's neurologist for medicinal cannabis to be prescribed, but this was blocked by Alder Hey Children's Hospital NHS Trust, where he is treated.

She claims this is unfair because she knows of three children who have been granted a licence to use the drug in the UK. The hospital will not comment on individual cases.

The family say they were given reassurance by Matt Hancock MP, the Secretary of State for Health, that he would expedite a second opinion on the matter, but this has not materialised and the family have been forced to seek a second opinion privately, and now face bills of up to £2,500 a month for the medicine.

Mrs Griffiths said: "We get the cannabis legally, but privately. Every month I have to go down to a hospital in London and pick it up. It's costing up to £2,500 a month and we have to find that money by fundraising constantly.

Joanne Griffiths protesting outside Longton's polling station, claiming the Tory Government has let down her son Ben.

Joanne Griffiths protesting outside Longton's polling station, claiming the Tory Government has let down her son Ben.

"Seema Kennedy was sat next to Matt Hancock when he gave us his word about the second opinion, but we've heard nothing.

"As Under Secretary of State for Health, she must be in contact with him every day. It's not good enough."

Mrs Kennedy said: “I have been working closely with the Griffiths’ family since July 2018 and have raised Ben's case personally with the Secretary of State for Health, and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to try and find a solution.

"I will continue to assist the Griffiths’ family as their MP. However, I am clear that NHS medical professionals should, in all cases, be able to make the final judgement about which drugs are prescribed to their patients.”

For more information on Ben and the family's fundraising, click here