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Help with health costs

Get help for wigs and fabric supports

Wigs are available from the NHS but patients will be charged for them unless they qualify for help with charges. There are extensive arrangements for providing help with NHS prescription charges and other health costs such as wigs.


Wigs and fabric supports costs 

  • Surgical brassiere – £27.45 
  • Abdominal or spinal support – £41.50
  • Stock modacrylic wig – £67.75
  • Partial human hair wig – £179.45
  • Full bespoke human hair wig – £262.45

There are no nationally set limits on the number of wigs a patient can have from the NHS. However, there is nothing preventing local NHS organisations from setting their own limit. 

Though patients may be exempt from NHS prescription charges, this exemption may not extend to other NHS charges. NHS prescriptions are only one part of NHS health costs and these are made on FP10 prescription forms and dispensed under the pharmaceutical services regulations. There are other NHS charges which patients may have to pay, for example glasses and contact lenses.

More information can be found in the leaflet HC11: Help with health costs (PDF, 453kb)

Information about current NHS charges is available in the HC12: A quick guide to help with health costs (PDF, 97kb).

Who is entitled to NHS wigs and fabric supports?

You can get free wigs and fabric supports if you:

  • are under 16
  • are 16-18 and in full-time education
  • are a hospital inpatient
  • are a war pensioner and the wig or fabric support is for your accepted disablement and you have a valid war pension exemption certificate

You are entitled to help if you receive either:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit,or
  • You are named on, or entitled to (use your award notice as evidence) an NHS tax credit exemption certificate, or 
  • You are named on a valid HC2 certificate (full help with health costs) 
  • You are awarded Universal Credit

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).

Partial help:
If you are named on a valid HC3 certificate (limited help), you might get some help towards the cost of your NHS dental treatment. The certificate tells you how much you will have to pay. 

I have a low income; how can I get help with NHS charges?

If you have a low income the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS) may help you. To apply for an HC2 certificate, you should complete form HC1 available from Jobcentre Plus offices or most NHS hospitals. Your doctor, dentist or optician may have one too. You can also get an HC1 by calling 0300 123 0849.

You will qualify for a full help HC2 certificate (which includes free NHS prescriptions), if your income is less than or equal to your requirements, or your income is greater than your requirements by no more than half the current English prescription charge.

You will qualify for a limited help HC3 certificate if your income is greater than your requirements by more than half the current English prescription charge. The HC3 certificate shows how much you have to pay towards your health costs.

Certificates are usually valid for periods of between 6 months to 5 years, depending on your circumstances.

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).

How do I claim for help with NHS wigs and fabric support charges?

Tell the person who fits your wig or fabric support that you are entitled to it free, and show proof of your entitlement or war pension exemption certificate.

You might also be entitled to help with charges if you have a valid HC3 certificate. You are only asked to pay the amount stated on the certificate or the actual cost – whichever is the least.


How can I claim a refund?

Ask the hospital for a receipt that shows that you have paid an NHS charge, and complete form HC5 - claim wigs and fabric supports (PDF, 207kb).

An information leaflet HC11 - Help with health costs (PDF, 453kb), is available to download here.

Further information is also available from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) or by calling our customer enquiry line on 0300 330 1343.


The 8 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

angie lam said on 15 June 2015

We have an 84 year old lady who needs a new wig. The people who normally issue these are no longer being funded. How do we get these items now.

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Editor NHS Choices said on 01 October 2014

If you want answers about help with health costs, join the Help with Health Costs Facebook page where the NHS Business Services Authority will respond to help with health costs questions Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm;

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KatieBateman said on 17 July 2014

I'm a fulltime student in university who works part time, I have alopecia but apparently I'm not entitled to any help as 1. I've not lost enough hair? (I have half of my head bald!) and 2. Because I'm a student. People on benefits get more money than I do and they're entitled to everything.

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User822505 said on 12 February 2014

I have alopecia. I work not highly paid, but not am entitled to any help. It is unfair as I have always worked & any financial help towards paying for a wig would be a great help. it makes me feel like not working & going onto benefits

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Dick Bowman said on 28 February 2013

I find these charges outrageous - in particular that pensioners are not entitled to a free prescription as a matter of course.

Having to use an abdominal support as a consequence of a hospital-acquired condition - I do not believe that the supports dispensed cost anything like the charge of over £38 - another case of backdoor profiteering at the expense of the elderly and ill.

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csumm said on 10 October 2011

To imperfectkaren - everyone is entitled to a second opinion. You don't say if you are going to GP or hospital - either way your daughter should get the advice of a specialist.

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imperfectkaren said on 04 October 2011

I am taking my daughter to the doctors once again on Friday,
she has alopecia but they will not diagnose her or help.
she has lost her hair twice since February already.

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Uzume13 said on 12 March 2011

So, how would someone like me get an affordable wig? I am unemployed but my husband is working (take home pay apps £1300pm), scarring alopecia and can't afford a wig. I buy prepay certificates when I can afford to, does this include a wig?

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Page last reviewed: 01/04/2014

Next review due: 01/04/2016

Paying NHS charges

Read about rules on exemptions, claiming refunds, and what happens if you're caught claiming refunds dishonestly

Important numbers

Phone 0300 330 1348 for the dental services help line

Phone 0300 330 1343 for the Low Income Scheme help line

Phone 0300 330 1341 for queries about medical exemption certificates.

Phone 0300 330 1341 for queries about PPCs.

Phone 0300 330 1349 for the prescription services help line

Phone 0300 330 1347 for queries about tax credit certificates

Phone 0300 123 0849 to order a paper copy of the HC12, HC5 and HC1 (SC)  forms

For all other queries call 0300 330 1343

Hair loss

Find out about the different types of hair loss, from male-pattern baldness to alopecia areata