Doctors could be saving the NHS as much as £2bn a year if they were fulfilling their duty of attempting to prevent waste at every feasible opportunity, says a new report.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges states that it is a doctor's duty to prevent waste, which includes better use of operating theatres, hospital beds and medication.

The report argues that too many doctors are handing out x-rays, drugs and treatments without thinking about the financial consequences.

It urges doctors and nurses to be more ready to question the value of all tests and treatments that they carry out as the NHS looks to save every penny possible.

It adds that well over £1bn ($1.6bn, €1.3bn) could be saved if doctors were more cautious about overprescribing drugs, and that one in five patients are being given x-rays for spinal and knee problems but to no avail which is costing an additional £221m – something that doctors should be questioning.

A further £466m could be saved if doctors were less willing to prescribe a plethora of drugs to elderly patients, which, in 6% of cases leads to hospital admissions, with a further 4% needing to occupy hospital beds as a result of the variety of medicines.

Other saving methods include upping doctors and nurses ward visits which would give them a chance to discharge patients more promptly, as well as giving people with mild depression fewer anti-depressants.

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges chairman Professor Terrence Stephenson said that a lot of the budget is being wasted on 'demanding' patients.

Stephenson: "The public can be very demanding, often fuelled by the internet, and can exacerbate this problem by demanding tests and treatments for which there's no evidence base, such as antibiotics for sore throats. The relentless demand of the public is for treatment here and now."