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Giant Steps

17 June 2008

“It isn’t about hair, its psychological medicine for women who are suffering hair loss through illness. For many of the women I have seen, it’s the missing link in their treatment.”

Trevor Sorbie, MBE, Founder my new hair Trevor Sorbie’s not-for-profit initiative my new hair, has inspired a new project from The North of England Cancer Network, which takes a giant step forward in raising the bar nationally for wig provision and wig services. The unique service improvement not only aims to ensure that patients across the North East and Cumbria have access to the same quality and service when receiving a wig, but also provides patients with a choice of where they can go.

The project came about when it became evident, through patient feedback, that there were big differences surrounding the quality of wigs and level of services provided in various parts of the North of England. The new service will direct patients to a number of participating salons across the region, who can supply, fit and personally style wigs for patients. The wig and initial styling will be paid for by the local NHS and is available for all women who have lost their hair for medical reasons including alopecia.

Trevor Sorbie’s my new hair team worked closely with The North of England Cancer Network team on the completion of what was a collaborative procurement tendering process, with Procurement North East (PRO-NE) and their Patient and Carer Group, who reviewed each step of the process for quality and service. Trevor helped to assess the quality of the wigs to be provided and was also involved in helping to improve the patient experience in salons. Many of the North East hairdressers offering the wig service through the North of England Cancer Network have been trained through one of Trevor Sorbie’s my new hair seminars. Inspired by his own experience helping a family member during cancer treatment, Trevor Sorbie launched his not-for-profit organisation my new hair in June 2006, (this will soon become a formal charity) and now dedicates much of his time to both training and supporting hair professionals, and offering advice and a wig customisation service, to clients suffering medical hair loss Trevor and his my new hair team, Ann Fox (Nurse Director of the North of England Cancer Network) and Sheila Brown (Chair of the Patient & carer group) are now presenting in other NHS forums about this exciting collaborative work.

Ann Fox, nurse director of the North of England Cancer Network said: “We are delighted to be involved in this work to ensure we achieve equity of access for patients to quality services at such a difficult and sensitive time in their lives. “Many women feel their hair is their identity and losing it through cancer is incredibly traumatic. We hope this initiative will mean they are able to find a beautiful wig which they can have fitted and styled by specially trained hairdressers to make their experience the best we possibly can.” Trevor has so far trained 140 hairdressers nationally and is delighted that some of those hairdressers are now working with the North of England Cancer Network.

Trevor holds monthly seminars hosted at L’Oreal Professional with the aim to train 400 hairdressers across the country to also offer this unique service. “This is the beginning of what will be a challenging but exciting journey with the NHS – we have now helped set the precedent and encourage the rest of the country to follow our lead. My personal goal, is also a passionate promise, to make this level of service accessible to women around the UK and long term the world.” Trevor Sorbie, MBE, Founder my new hair