NHS Wigs – my experience
NB: Please note I am NOT a medical professional – this post is based on my own experience and is intended to shine a light on what to expect when being prescribed with an NHS wig. Your local PCT may be different.
I have had two NHS wigs, firstly in 2009 my first wig was courtesy of the NHS. I didn’t claim another until just recently. I was scarred by that first experience, I was 24 and I didn’t know what to expect. I truly believe that you grow into wearing a wig. Your first one will feel weird at first and you will be convinced that everyone will know. A good wig should never look wiggy. Unfortunately my first wig could not be described as good.
I was referred by my GP to a dermatologist and to the wig clinic, ten years after my first diagnosis of alopecia. Between my diagnosis and 2009 I used minoxidil, cut my hair short and just tried to get on with it. Following gastric bypass surgery in 2008, my hair went even thinner and I couldn’t do a lot with it, so I decided to turn to wigs.
My local hospital runs a wig clinic fortnightly so I was invited along. I went alone, not knowing what to expect. The clinic at the time was a hairdresser who came in with a suitcase full of wigs. I had to have something out of that suitcase or nothing at all.
A good wig shouldn’t look wiggy
I decided on the Danni wig by Natural Image. Now I have to say that I have seen other women wear this and wear it well. There was nothing wrong with the wig itself, only once perched atop of my head. I looked older than my mother. A fact that was confirmed on my first wearing of it outside the house whereby a family acquaintance referred to me as “Rita Two”.
The other disappointment for me was that the so-called hairdresser couldn’t cut the fringe, customisation was not offered nor recommended. I tried to contact hairdressers in my area but none of them would cut it for me. I ended up visiting Hot Hair in Meadowhall where I ended up walking away with a monofilament pixie cut and feeling a lot happier.
Wigs have come a long way since then.
Fast forward eight years and I have bought all of my wigs ever since. Recently a young woman contacted me for advice and I was genuinely shocked when she told me she had walked out of her NHS appointment with a Raquel Welch style which looked amazing! I decided, having rediscovered the joy of synthetic wigs, that I would see what the NHS could offer me now. Plus I needed a copy of my prescription in order to get a VAT refund for a recent purchase.
I decided this time however, to contact with orthotic department at my local hospital first to ask who supplied them with wigs. They advised my local supplier was Hair Plus in Leeds and booked me in for the next clinic. I contacted Hair Plus – part of the Daxbourne group who supply Natural Image, Raquel Welch, Hot Hair and others, they were more than happy to explain what I was entitled to and what I could expect. I was entitled to two wigs per year of around £120 value each – per prescription of £70.15. As I don’t pay VAT anyway it isn’t a huge saving but hey ho they don’t last long so a saving is a saving!
I chose a few styles from their website, having eyed the Impact by Natural Image and having recently tried a light auburn colour I was keen to experiment.
When my appointment came around, the lady I saw was a hairdresser and was delighted to show me the five styles they had brought for me from my choice. I tried:
The longer ones were just not my style and knowing the trouble I have with the Noriko Angelica, I decided the shorter ones were the way to go. I liked the Infinity but unfortunately the colour (Paprika Mist) was just not right for me. I was disappointed it wasn’t warmer as shown on the website. The Warm Chestnut of the Impact was spot on though and the style very cute.
My second experience was much more positive and I am also able to claim a second one during the year. I may try the Infinity again in a different colour!
I would recommend if you are considering or have been referred to an NHS clinic for a wig, try to find out who the supplier is and if possible contact them to explain what you are looking for. Natural Image are very popular as Daxbourne are the suppliers for over 100 NHS trusts and if you live near a shop you be able to visit and try some before your appointment. Remember you are not obliged to take any if they are not your style.
On the contrary, if it is your first time wearing a wig, you will no doubt have worries and concerns. Try checking the Alopecia UK website to see if there is a support group in your area or check their facebook page.
Did you have an NHS nightmare or hospital hero? Share your stories below.