Almost £2m of NHS funds is wasted on unused prescription medication in East Berkshire.

Three clinical commissioning groups (CCGS) – Bracknell and Ascot, Windsor Ascot and Maidenhead – could save between £500,000 and £600,000 each if waste was reduced.

The money potentially saved could be used for 600 heart operations.

The CCGs said close to 50% of medicine waste could be prevented if patients only ordered the medicine they use, informing their GP when they have stopped taking a certain prescription, and correctly followed the information labelled on their prescriptions.

Commissioner for Bracknell and Ascot CCG, Dr Martin Kittel, said: “If we had to pay for this medication we would know how much it costs - the fact is if you pay for something you do not waste it. Really, we need to find a system in some way to reduce that cost.

“I think we have to think about whether we encourage people to buy medicines themselves and as doctors we should think carefully about the medicines we prescribe.”

Currently, pregnant women, children under 16, people on income-related benefits and those with certain serious long-term medical conditions are exempt from paying for prescriptions.