COMMERCIAL: North West Ambulance Service Trust will take on NHS 111 in the area for an interim period, Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group has announced.

The North West is one of 11 areas where NHS Direct won contracts to provide the service, only to announce in July that the deals were financially unviable and the organisation would be pulling out.

Eastern Cheshire said discussions had taken place with a “number of potential new providers” who could deliver the service for an interim period before a reprocurement had been completed and it had now been agreed the ambulance service would take it on, subject to final contract.

The CCG has continued to fund the GP out-of-hours service provided by East Cheshire Trust so patients can contact the service directly. NHS 111 was intended to replace call handlers in out-of-hours services and has done so in most other areas.

CCG chief officer Jerry Hawker said: “I am pleased that an interim provider has been secured who has both the experience and a strong track record in the provision of similar services. I am confident that they have the capacity, capability and experience to provide a good quality service in the interim period.

“The public of Eastern Cheshire can be reassured that a full NHS 111 service will be available to them throughout the transition and that they should not feel any detrimental effects resulting from the changes in the providers of the service.”

A spokeswoman for NWAS said: “NWAS has been approached by commissioners as the preferred provider in the short-term for the 111 service in the North West. We are currently in advanced discussions but no final decision has yet been made.