Doctors' leaders have welcomed a move by the Government to relax the deadline for the rollout of a new number for non-emergency services.
The time frame to implement the new 111 number was set for April 2013, but today the Department of Health extended the deadline by six months for areas that need more time.
The British Medical Association (BMA) welcomed the delay for introducing the telephone number.
The BMA's GPs committee chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: "The decision to delay implementation of NHS 111 by up to six months in areas where more developmental work is still needed is a welcome one.
"We have been pressing the Secretary of State to allow a delay for some time.
"The principle behind NHS 111 - making patient access to urgent NHS services easier - is a good one. Unfortunately, the speed of the rollout was putting this at risk.
"Hopefully now there will be sufficient time to ensure local clinicians are properly involved so services can be designed that will be safe, reliable and genuinely benefit patients."
In the short-term, 111 will run alongside existing local telephone services and NHS Direct, but it will eventually become the single number for non-emergency care.