Only ask for what you need – save medicines

13 November 2018

Written by: Helen Eldridge NHS Lambeth CCG

Health and Wellbeing

Lambeth NHS asks patients to help save money for vital NHS services by checking before they order repeat prescriptions.

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Only ask for what you need – save medicines

NHS Lambeth is asking people to help reduce the cost of medicines waste. If you get repeat prescriptions of the same medicine, please check how much you have at home before automatically re-ordering.

Stockpiled medicines

It is estimated that £90 million of unused prescription medicines are kept in people’s homes. Every prescription costs the NHS money, even if a prescription charge is paid. Unused prescription medicine costs the NHS around £300 million each year. This money could be spent on vital NHS services.

How can you help?

Everyone can help reduce medicines waste:

  • Wait until you have less than two weeks’ supply left before asking for more.
  • Only tick the boxes on your repeat prescription forms for medicines you really need. It will still be there if you need it next time.
  • When you pick up your prescription, check what is in the bag. Make sure that it is what you ask for and what you need.  You can return any unwanted medicines to the pharmacist while you are in the pharmacy.
  • If you have stopped taking any medicines, tell your GP or pharmacist, so they can be removed from your repeat list.
  • When you see your GP or consultant, make sure you understand any changes in your medicines, what each medicine is for, why you are taking it, and how to take it properly.
  • Manage your medicines by registering for GP online services and requesting your prescriptions online. You can do this through your GP practice.

Remember: if you need the same medicine in future, you can still request it.


Look out for posters, leaflets and branded pharmacy bags in Lambeth practices and pharmacies for reminders to only ask for what you need

For more information

To find out more about Only ask for what you need, see the NHS information pages