A new campaign is encouraging doctors to stop issuing blood tests or pills unless they are absolutely necessary.
Published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the report says that there is growing evidence that doctors often feel pressured to "do something" every time they see a patient. This is leading to wasted resources and money spent on blood tests and pills that may have little or no benefit.
The Choosing Wisely initiative also encourages patients to ask their doctor whether a proposed test is necessary, and engage in a discussion about other safer or simpler options.
Written by a number of doctors' leaders such as the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), the article says each medical organisations will be asked to nominate five procedures that should not be offered routinely.
This might include issuing pills for mild depression or many routine blood tests.
The new initiative, which has started in North America to tackle over-diagnosis and waste, has already been adopted in a number of European countries like Germany and Switzerland.
According to the BMJ report, when participating organisations have compiled their five tests or procedures commonly used that are not always necessary, they will be divided into lists.
The results will then be published later this year and a public campaign will be launched to spread awareness to both doctors and patients.
Desire for treatment from patients has "bred unbalanced decision-making", which has resulted in patients sometimes being offered treatments that have only minor benefit and minimal evidence, the report says.
It warns that the NHS will not be able to cope with growing demand for healthcare unless such practice is tackled.
Professor Dame Sue Bailey, chairwoman of the AoMRC, said: "The whole point of Choosing Wisely is to encourage doctors to have conversations with their patients and about the value of a treatment.
"It's not and will never be about refusing treatment or in any way jeopardising safety. It's just about taking a grown-up approach to healthcare and being good stewards of the resources we have."
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