IMPORTANT: The following is a guide only. What is offered via a NHS prescription varies greatly depending on your NHS Trust.
Please check with your local NHS Trust to confirm policy in your area.
Can I get a wig on the NHS?
In many areas of the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) makes provision for the supply of wigs to dermatology patients who need them.
In order to qualify you need to have a referral from the dermatology department of your local hospital. If you have not been referred to your local dermatologist you need to speak to your GP and ask to be referred. If you have alopecia that you are unable to cover up easily (some have specified at least 50% hair loss) then you should qualify for a wig on the NHS.
PLEASE NOTE: Some NHS Trusts do not prescribe wigs to dermatology patients. We always recommend asking for a referral to a dermatologist and finding out if you are able to get a wig prescription.
It is up to your dermatologist to decide if you qualify for an NHS prescription for a wig. If considered suitable you will be given a prescription and advised which wig suppliers you can take your prescription to. Some NHS Trusts provide patients with a choice of supplier, some will only provide you with the option of one.
How much will I have to pay?
Prescription charges for NHS wigs are reviewed every April 1st. These are now set locally, but may still be approximately based on the last fixed charges which are as follows:
Human hair custom made wigs: £271.70
Human hair partial wigs: £185.80
Stock size modacrylic wigs £70.15
There are many exemptions to paying prescription charges – the hospital will advise you and don’t be too shy to ask! The NHS Choices website gives detailed information regarding help with costs. If there is difficulty in paying you should complete form WF1 obtainable from your hospital Surgical Appliance Officer and help can often be received.
Further details can be found on the NHS website here.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
If you are able to obtain a wig prescription via your NHS dermatologist in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there is no prescription charge to pay.
Where can I get my wig?
Your hospital will advise you of local suppliers of wigs who are able to accept NHS prescriptions. In order to be able to accept NHS prescriptions the wig company needs to sign a contract with the NHS. Wig suppliers under contract to the NHS must supply a very good standard of wig, a good choice and a confidential and quality service.
If you are dissatisfied with the service you receive from your NHS wig supplier, get in touch with your Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). Your dermatologist or hospital should be able to provide you with details.
How many wigs will I be able to get on prescription per year?
Unfortunately this again differs depending on what your NHS Trust offers. The most standard offering is two synthetic wigs per year, although some NHS Trusts in England have cut that back to just one.
In Scotland, it's possible to get up to four synthetic wigs per year however we do hear from members in Scotland who only receive two.
Whether or not you can get a human hair wig via prescription also varies between NHS Trusts. Many do not offer human hair wig prescriptions. Some will offer them, but only in cases of allergy to synthetic fibres as confirmed by a dermatologist.
It is simply a case of asking your dermatologist what you are able to receive via a prescription.
Why do some people get a different service?
The decision on what a hospital provides in the way of wigs to people with alopecia is made on a local basis. That means that each hospital will decide for itself how much of a budget there is for wigs. The money a hospital has comes from the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and each CCG will be in a different financial situation. A lot of CCGs are currently millions of pounds in debt. Hospitals that are looking to save money will be less inclined to fund wigs. This can lead to what is known as a ‘postcode lottery’.
If you are not happy with the service you have been offered by your local hospital your first port of call should be the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) at your local hospital. You can either ring your local hospital switchboard or their details will be on the hospital or CCG website.
Dermatologists can put in 'Individual Funding Requests' for wigs if the NHS Trust in your area does not generally prescribe what you need. If you are struggling to afford to purchase a wig privately, you could ask your dermatologist if they would make an Individual Funding Request on your behalf.