PATIENTS could end up paying more for their medicine as health chiefs try to balance their books.
GPs are being urged to dish out fewer drugs on people's repeat prescriptions in a money-saving move.
Central and South Huddersfield PCT chief executive Kevin Holder wants doctors to economise in March, as the end of the financial year approaches.
It could mean, for example, a patient who usually gets three months' worth of pills on a single prescription may only be able to pick up enough for a month.
Many patients are exempt from paying the £6.50 charge but a watchdog today raised concerns about inconvenience as well as a cash penalty for some.
Mr Holder wrote to GPs, urging them to take action in a bid to save the PCTs thousands of pounds.
Bosses report that at the end of the financial year on March 31, Huddersfield Central PCT could break even after saving more than £1.4m since December.
Huddersfield South, which was projected to be £4m in the red, could work its way back to be £2m overdrawn.
Mr Holder's request means patients who normally get two or three months of tablets and medicines for the standard prescription charge could face having to go back in four weeks - and pay the same again.
In the letter, Kevin Holder says: "Whilst this merely shunts costs across year-end it has a very significant in-year benefit without any compromise to patients' safety or increase in overall financial cost."
Later in the letter Mr Holder admits his suggestions may not be popular.
He adds: "I appreciate this letter may not be well received by all, but as I have said on many occasions, we all live in a resource constrained and performance managed system."
The letter also urges doctors to look at using local facilities such as Holme Valley Hospital for patient referrals rather than the Royal Infirmary.
A spokesperson for the two PCTs said: "The majority of patients on repeat prescriptions are exempt from charges, for example, the elderly, children and those on a low income.
"We wrote to all our GPs to ask for their help in addressing the current financial position without compromising clinical safety and efficacy.
"The letter suggested some actions to consider that could result in significant financial benefits for the PCTs, however, GPs are not obliged to take such actions, if they feel they would have an adverse affect on patients, clinically or financially."
A spokesman for the health watchdog the PPI Forums expressed concern.
He said: "We are dismayed. This will put patients to yet more inconvenience.
"Many patients, especially those with chronic disease, who pay for prescriptions will suffer a serious financial penalty as a result of this decision."