NHS England pledged to support the commissioners of 111 services to put in place alternative providers.
We are working closely with the Trust Development Authority and the Board of NHS Direct to ensure that NHS Direct continues to provide a safe, high quality service to patients while, alternative, long-term, providers are secured.
We have been in discussions with NHS Direct for some time over this issue and they have assured us they are committed to continue to provide services.
We are also having constructive discussions with a number of potential new providers who could take on these contracts, specifically with the local ambulance trusts who have experience and a strong track record in provision of similar services
– Dame Barbara Hakin, NHS England’s Deputy Chief Executive
We will continue to provide a safe and reliable NHS 111 service to our patients until alternative arrangements can be made by commissioners.
Whatever the outcome of the discussions on the future, patients will remain the central focus of our efforts, together with protecting our staff who work on NHS 111 to ensure that the service will continue to benefit from their skills and experience.
NHS Direct is due to make a statement within the next half an hour regarding the non-emergency 111 helpline.
Earlier this month NHS Direct announced it would not be able to initiate contracts in Cornwall and North Essex.
A statement said: "NHS Direct have written to commissioners in Cornwall and North Essex advising them that they are unable to initiate contracts for the NHS 111 service because they cannot be delivered for the resources within the contracts."
There's growing concern about the service being offered to patients by the new non-emergency telephone helpline 111.
It was supposed to be an alternative to 999 - removing some of the workload from the overstretched ambulance service and the overcrowded hospital emergency rooms but critics say it's adding more pressure.