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Commentary on a meeting with Nadine Dorries – 21st June 2013

30th June 2013

Some of you may have noticed that alopecia has featured a lot in the media recently due to MP Nadine Dorries speaking out about her own experience with hairloss. As a result of this an Alopecia UK forum support user, Elaine Bruce, arranged a meeting with her Mid-Bedfordshire MP (Nadine) in order to discuss some of her comments made in both television and newspaper interviews.  Alopecia UK Trustee, Helen Wallwork, also attended the meeting.

There were some keys things to be addressed in the meeting, namely Nadine’s comments regarding women over fifty years of age going out bald, her comments on there being no support available for people with alopecia, and also her comments on treatments. Nadine has spoken about a treatment she has started to use which may have led to some confusion for people with various types of alopecia as it has not been made clear what this treatment is, its effectiveness, its availability, or who it is for as it has been unclear what type of alopecia Nadine herself has.

Elaine introduced herself and started by explaining how angry she felt about Nadine’s statement that women over fifty were “not able to rock the bald look”. She also felt that an injustice had been done to the organisations that are providing help and support for people affected by all forms of alopecia, acknowledging amongst others, the work of Alopecia UK. It was also felt that by naming a product in the way that she has and claiming it to be a cure when the product in question is an unproven treatment was inappropriate as it could give false hope.

Nadine responded by saying that Elaine looks amazing. She also stated that when speaking of support she meant there was no NHS support for those with Alopecia. In relation to her own hairloss she stated that she has both Alopecia Areata (AA) and Female Pattern Baldness (FPB). She said she had mentioned the treatment she is undertaking as a way to show that treatments are available (apparently she has seen first-hand people who have had re-growth using the treatment she is using and that she is seeing an improvement – but she didn’t say to which areas AA or FPB).

As Nadine has received many letters, emails and phone calls about Alopecia from both genders and parents of children with Alopecia, all saying there is a lack of support, Helen asked if in future she could please make it clear that there is support and to give out the AUK website for people to contact us. Helen also raised the point that peer support provided by those with Alopecia, for example through the Alopecia UK support forum, was viewed by many as preferable to a health professional with no first-hand knowledge of the condition as we know what it feels like to live with this disease/condition.

Nadine wants to raise a parliamentary debate on the treatments available for Alopecia and thinks that GP’s should be trying to offer innovative solutions for hair loss rather than just referring patients straight to Dermatologists i.e. they should be open to other treatments as this may in the long run result in a good outcome for the patient at reduced cost to the GP (time saved in consultations, referrals to Dermatologists and reduced numbers being prescribed anti-depressants). Helen made clear that Alopecia UK would welcome anything Nadine could do to raise awareness of Alopecia especially if it meant we could secure an increased range of treatments currently available through the NHS as this can differ depending on where you are in the country. The issue of the availability of both treatments and wigs being a “Postcode lottery” at present was also raised by Elaine.

Nadine asked Helen to contact her with links to the website and contact information

Alopecia UK would like to make clear that the product that Nadine is currently using is called, Dermaheal HL. Dermaheal is a range of cosmeceutical products. The practice who is providing this particular treatment to Nadine has the following statement alongside this treatment,

“this treatment is not a cure for hair loss and there are no guarantees that this will work”.

Alopecia UK only support treatments that have clinical evidence as outlined by the British Association of Dermatologists.

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