Public health should be considered the “mainstream agenda” for NHS managers and not an “add on”, according to NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar.

Mr Farrar was speaking in a session on public health at the Confederation’s annual conference in Manchester on Friday.

He told delegates: “This should be mainstream agenda. This is not an add on, this is not the responsibility of a single professional group, the new public health is what we should be all about and move way beyond this set of current reforms and into seriously addressing these issues of behaviour change.”

He added: “It should be on everybody’s boards. We should be talking about it whether it’s about changing behaviours in the workplace, acute hospitals, or indeed changing behaviour in the population.”

The NHS Confederation needed to lead by example on the issue, Mr Farrar said. 

“The first thing we can do is signal as a leadership community for management that this is the agenda and you can’t move it to one side.

He told delegates that the confederation needed to “act with our members” and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to identify behaviour change interventions that were working well “to showcase, promote and actually get that spread really quickly”.

Mr Farrar said: “We do waste a lot of money with very good intention but we waste money on things that haven’t had any impact.

“There are so many stories about where people are now shifting and changing behaviour in very difficult communities. That’s what we can do, that’s what we will do.”