Debbie Malcolm, of the Isle of Wight NHS wig service.
PATIENTS who have suffered hair loss due to alopecia or cancer treatment have praised a specialist NHS wig service on the Isle of Wight.
The Isle of Wight NHS Trust is one of only a handful in the UK to offer a wig service, providing support to people who have lost their hair.
Head of orthotics Carol Mabey said many people considered their hair an important part of their identity, and found hair loss difficult.
"Changes in a person’s appearance can influence self-esteem and confidence, and in some cases, can make them feel uncomfortable about socialising.
"It is therefore important that patients receive sensitive and professional support. We provide very personal care to ensure that men and women with hair loss can feel confident about their appearance. We combine clinical and hairdressing skills to deliver a complete service in a calm, private and friendly environment," she said.
"Our service is accessed via referral by healthcare professionals, including GPs, which takes up to two weeks. The patient then meets with Debbie Malcolm, our wig specialist, a fully qualified hairdresser and qualified clinician, in a dedicated consultation room for a private consultation and fitting.
"The Isle of Wight NHS Trust is unique in providing a wig specialist to assist patients. In other areas of the country, patients are given vouchers and left to source their own wigs."
The Isle of Wight NHS Wig Service is based at the orthotic and prosthetic department, at St Mary's Hospital. It provides professional, quality acrylic wigs which are pre-styled and then adapted by our wig specialist.
Wigs are available on prescription and cost £63.35.
One patient said: "As a lady coming up to 60, I have, since the age of fifteen, suffered with alopecia, which is understandably not a very nice condition to live with. But with the support, care and attention given by Debbie in the wig department, I can now go out and face the world feeling very confident.
"I cannot praise this department enough nor the kindness and empathy shown by Debbie."
Debbie, assistant orthotic practitioner and wig specialist, said: "We fully appreciate this can be a very emotional and sensitive experience and we will try to make the consultation as easy as possible for the patient.
"We see people of all ages and therefore stock a large wardrobe of wigs covering a wide range of styles and colours for the patient to try. Catalogues are available for discussion and if the style or colour is not available from stock they will be ordered for approval at a fitting appointment, ensuring individuals are completely happy with their final choice."
For further information, contact the orthotics and prosthetic department on 01983 552359.
Debbie is happy to speak to anyone with concerns regarding hair loss and will do her upmost to provide any advice or information required.
The service is also working with local charities, aiming to improve services for patients undergoing chemotherapy.