A new hair loss support service which will benefit cancer patients across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion has been awarded £165,000 in funding, thanks to generous donations from the public.

The Withybush Hospital Cancer Day Unit Appeal charity has provided £49,500 to fund the service in Pembrokeshire.

And Hywel Dda Health Charities - the official charity of Hywel Dda University Health Board - has provided £115,500 to fund the service in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. 

The 'Heads Up!' initiative, which will run for an initial two-year period, provides a person-centred, holistic hair loss service for cancer patients.

Dignity and choice

It brings together healthcare and haircare professionals from local communities to give patients the knowledge and products needed to manage their hair loss with dignity and choice.

The Health Board is the first in Wales to run an initiative to improve the patient experience of cancer-related hair loss.

The initiative was piloted across Pembrokeshire by the Cancer Hair Care service under the umbrella of charity Caring Hair and with funding from the Withybush Hospital Cancer Day Unit Appeal charity, with in-kind match-funding provided by Caring Hair.

Holistic support

Gina Beard, lead cancer nurse at the health board, said: “At the moment, hair loss support for cancer patients is limited, with a statutory duty only to inform patients that treatment may cause hair loss and to provide a £90 voucher towards a wig.

“The new service will ensure that patients have access to holistic support throughout their hair loss journey.

“Most importantly, the service will be as accessible as possible. It will be free at point of access to patients and aims to be available both on site at the appropriate hospitals and within the local community as well as remotely.

“A cancer diagnosis brings with it a great deal of anxiety and fear of the unknown challenges ahead. We hope that Heads Up! will help our patients greatly with the added worries and concerns about hair loss, ensuring that they are supported through every stage of cancer treatment.”

Generous donors

Trish George, treasurer of Withybush Hospital Cancer Day Unit Appeal, said: “Having funded the original pilot in Pembrokeshire and witnessed its success, we are delighted to be able to fund the costs of delivering this exciting and beneficial project to many more Pembrokeshire residents over the next two years.

"Huge thanks to all our generous donors who enable us to support this initiative.”

Nicola Llewelyn, head of Hywel Dda Health Charities, said: “The support of our local communities enables us to provide services over and above what the NHS can provide in the three counties of Hywel Dda and we are extremely grateful for every donation we receive.”

For more details about Hywel Dda Health Charities and how you can help support local NHS patients and staff, go to www.hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk

To learn more about the Withybush Hospital Cancer Day Unit Appeal,visit www.whcduappeal.co.uk