The NHS has been "a bit like a conveyor belt", according to a health expert.

Professor David Haslam, chairman of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice), said his organisation was attempting to reverse the practice of patients being given unnecessary and potentially harmful cocktails of drugs, The Times reported.

Medics will be expected to discuss the pros and cons of new treatments with patients instead of just adding a new drug.

"It's not a question of Nice saying patients must take this drug if they've got that.

"What we're trying to say is clinicians and patients need to discuss what the evidence is for use of that treatment, for that patient in that situation.

"The health service as a whole has been a bit like a conveyor belt - you get on and have the treatment laid out for you," Prof Haslam told the newspaper.

He said treatment should be a "two way thing".

Prof Haslam said that while some doctors find this "uncomfortable", more progressive doctors see it as a "good step".

He added: "The health service has tended to be fairly paternalistic, 'Bring us your problems, we'll look after you'. There's something noble about that, but now we need to work together a bit more."