NHS England Wig Provision Report Published - Get Involved!
4th October 2017
Alopecia UK has published its report examining wig provision from organisations within NHS England.
Alopecia UK’s Communications Manager, Amy Johnson, was prompted to write this report following lots of contact from those with alopecia struggling to access NHS assistance with wigs. It was clear from phonecalls, emails and social media messages that some people with alopecia were not able to access help with wig provision that others were.
NHS England has a policy which states: “There are no nationally set limits on the number of wigs a patient can have on the NHS, but there’s nothing preventing local NHS organisations from setting their own limit”.
Unfortunately, it was clear to Alopecia UK that some NHS organisations were setting their limit at zero; this was confirmed by the investigations completed as part of this report and the findings demonstrated a clear disparity with wig provision across NHS England.
Amy says: “I started this report three years ago as I became frustrated by what I was hearing from those with alopecia. Even though I am not a regular wig-wearer myself, I absolutely appreciate just how essential they are for many people to cope with living with alopecia. The idea that the NHS in some areas is viewing alopecia as a ‘cosmetic issue’ and not offering any support with wigs (or anything else!) really angered me. It fired me up to begin this work. I’d like to say it’s been a ‘labour of love’ but in reality I have found myself frustrated by how long it’s taken me to get to the point of getting it published – perils of being a small charity involved in lots of activities.”
Evidence supports for the use of wigs as a treatment for alopecia. In fact, wigs are listed as a treatment option in both guidance from NICE and British Association of Dermatologists.
Alopecia UK’s recommendations within the report include, amongst others, increasing the supplier choice available to each patient with alopecia, introducing minimum levels for wig provision (rather than allowing NHS organisations to set their own limit of zero) and ensuring that alopecia is not referred to as a ‘cosmetic issue’ and psychological support is made available.
Moving forward, Alopecia UK will use their report as a foundation for campaigning work to improve wig provision across the UK, not only in England. The charity focussed its work on NHS England as this related to the majority of complaints received.
If you are unhappy with wig provision in your local area, join Alopecia UK's Fairer Wig Provision Campaign. Consider whether you are happy to contact your local NHS Trust or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and your local MP. Write to them, linking to this report and Alopecia UK’s recommendations.
For further details of how you can get involved with Alopecia UK's Fairer Wig Provision Campaign, click here.