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
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
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.
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.
How you can get involved
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.