This was first posted over on my personal blog but I think it would be useful for readers of my bralady blog too!
I’ve been living with the diagnosis of breast cancer since 30 October 2000. In that time I’ve seen a lot of hospitals and experts due to moving around the UK quite a bit.
Not once has anyone told me that as a patient who has had a lumpectomy (and this applies to mastectomy patients too) if I buy a bra specifically made for someone who needs a prosthesis (ie with a pocket or pockets) that I am entitled to have my purchase charged to me at a VAT-exempt rate under Group 12 of Section 8 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994.
Bearing in mind that it is now 11 years since I had my diagnosis and I only found out this important piece of information 6 months ago – that is a lot of extra VAT that I’ve been paying unnecessarily. I understand that health workers of all types (Drs, nurses etc) are busy people, but it doesn’t hurt to produce a leaflet of facts that apply to every patient and give it to them to read in their own time! I know it’s not just me, as a Bra Lady I fit other ladies who have had breast cancer and I haven’t come across anyone so far who has been aware of this fact!
At a time when money can become a precious commodity due to being unable to work – information such as this can be vital in helping ends meet. Not only that, but mastectomy bras are slightly more expensive due to the additional work involved in adding the pockets, so the VAT exemption brings them down to a comparable price-range. It is worth investing in mastectomy bras as they are a great deal more comfortable for ladies who have more sensitive skin following surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I much prefer them even now as I still find I have sensitive skin even all these years later.
Ladies, make sure if you have had a lumpectomy or mastectomy that when you buy pocketed bras – you ask for them to be exempted under Group 12 of Section 8 of the VAT Act 1994 and sign the appropriate document to confirm your eligibility. If the vendor selling you the bra doesn’t know what you are talking about, do what I’d do – educate and then shop elsewhere.