In order to fulfil this obligation the LPC often pauses in its deliberations to ensure it's the right size - and that it provides all the contractor support that it can. The talk of merger with neighbouring LPCs often comes up.
The advantages of merger include "economy of scale" and the consequent ability to support full time paid officials to run the LPC. The disadvantages are also obvious - merger would mean losing good committee members and local expertise - "throwing the baby out with the bathwater!"
It's not an easy decision and historically we have come close to merger with Sunderland LPC twice already...but each time we agreed "if it's not broken, why fix it."
Moving forward, things will change - nothing stays the same - and the LPC will find itself in uncharted water. From next April, in a world with no PCTs, we know that South Tyneside CCG will exist alone; but we also know that Gateshead CCG will be clustering with 2 Newcastle CCGs - very different to the cluster of PCTs that exist today in South of Tyne.
The LPC will need to build strong links with local authorities - because this is where future public health services that we will offer our patients will be commissioned; as well as facilitating direct contracting between CCGs and willing pharmacies.
As a consequence, in the coming months, your LPC will need to consider, once again, the possibility of merger, perhaps with all the other LPCs in the Northern Region to form a massive LPC with localities. This will only happen if the LPCs believe the subsequent entity will be more fit-for-purpose (and be able to serve contractors better) than what we have today - and that the benefits outweigh the negatives. We will keep you informed, as we move onwards, and the reformed NHS takes its shape.