A major provider of the NHS non-emergency telephone service in England is seeking to pull out of its contracts due to severe problems.
NHS Direct initially won 11 of the 46 regional contracts for the service, covering 34% of the population.
It has already pulled out of two services, but the remaining nine are now “financially unsustainable”.
The whole NHS 111 service itself has been plagued with problems, including reports of patients facing long waits.
The regional services are run by a range of organisations including private companies, ambulance trusts and NHS Direct – which ran the old telephone advice line.
NHS Direct pulled of two areas – Cornwall and North Essex – even before the services were launched.
In July the organisation warned that the volume of calls was 30-40% lower than contracted levels, leading to lower income and leaving the remaining nine services “financially unsustainable”.
NHS Direct used to be paid more than £20 per call when it ran the old 0845 number. The payment is between £7 and £9 per call for the new 111 service.