Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Chronic pain victims seek cannabis treatments amid waiting list log jam

© Shutterstock / Roxana GonzalezCannabis oil used to treat pain
Cannabis oil used to treat pain

Two-thirds of patients contacting Scotland’s first medical cannabis clinic are chronic pain sufferers waiting a year or more for specialist NHS help.

The Sapphire Medical Clinic in Stirling has revealed the overwhelming majority of patients have chronic-pain-related conditions as NHS waiting lists to see consultants lengthen.

The delays have ­provoked warnings chronic pain sufferers are risking addiction to powerful ­prescription drugs because alternative treatments are under-resourced.

About 800,000 Scots a year receive at least one prescription for opioid painkillers, which can be as addictive as heroin. Dr Simon Erridge, Head of Research and Access at Sapphire Medical Clinics, said there was insufficient evidence to support use of traditional painkillers, such as opioids.

In March the Sapphire clinic was given approval from regulators Healthcare Improvement Scotland to treat dozens of conditions, including Parkinson’s. Data from Sapphire show 65% of referrals for a cannabis prescription are for people suffering severe pain for 12 weeks or more, despite treatment or medication.

One patient at the clinic – Suzie Marshall, a 48-year-old retired bank worker – waited almost two years to be diagnosed with arthritis by an NHS consultant. She previously took strong painkillers for joint pain.

She said: “I was surprised at how keen doctors are to hand out opioids. They didn’t really help my pain.”

The number of patients waiting a year or more to see a specialist for chronic pain on the NHS has almost trebled over the past year, according to official figures.

At the end of March, 165 people had been waiting 52 weeks or more for an appointment – up from 57 in 2020. Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Annie Wells said: “We should not have reached the point where this new cannabis clinic is having so many referrals for chronic pain patients. The health secretary must guarantee necessary funding to tackle growing waiting times.”

Two weeks ago the Scottish Government said improvement of chronic pain services was a priority. It added: “We know that there is need for improvement and this year we will publish an updated framework for chronic pain service delivery.”