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NHS in England: help with health costs

Get help for wigs and fabric supports

Wigs are available on 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 – £28.85 
  • Abdominal or spinal support – £43.60
  • Stock modacrylic wig – £71.25
  • Partial human hair wig – £188.70
  • Full bespoke human hair wig – £275.95

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. 

Although 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 – these are made on FP10 prescription forms and dispensed under the pharmaceutical services regulations. 

There are other NHS charges patients may have to pay, such as glasses and contact lenses.

Who's entitled to NHS wigs and fabric supports?

You can get free wigs and fabric supports if you are:

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

If you or your partner – including civil partner – receive, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you're entitled to or named on:

  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you don't have a certificate, you can show your award notice; you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.

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

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

If you're on a low income, the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS) may be able to help you. To apply for an HC2 certificate, you should complete the HC1 form available from Jobcentre Plus offices or most NHS hospitals. Your doctor, dentist or optician may also have copies, or you can call 0300 123 0849 to get hold of a form.

You 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 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 and 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're entitled to it free, and show proof of your entitlement or a war pension exemption certificate.

You might also be entitled to help with charges if you have a valid HC3 certificate. You're 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've paid an NHS charge, and complete an HC5 (W) form – claim wigs and fabric supports (PDF, 354kb).

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

Important numbers

Dental services helpline – 0300 330 1348

NHS Low Income Scheme helpline – 0300 330 1343

Prescription services helpline – 0300 330 1349

Queries about medical exemption certificates – 0300 330 1341

Queries about prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) – 0300 330 1341

Queries about tax credit certificates – 0300 330 1347

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

Call 0300 330 1343 for all other queries

Page last reviewed: 01/04/2017

Next review due: 01/04/2020