Nick Chapman, the chief executive of NHS Direct, will step down from his job next July, when the decommissioning of its 0845 service will be complete.

NHS Direct announced today that it has appointed Trevor Smith, the trust’s finance and performance director for the past four years, as managing director; a post he has held on an interim basis since September.

NHS Direct was one of the first new, technology-enabled services to be created. It started life as a telephone advice service under the last, Labour government, and has expanded into a major online presence.

More recently, it has launched very successful apps to enable the public to access its online symptom checkers and advice services.

However, the coalition government’s first health secretary, Andrew Lansley, abruptly announced that NHS Direct would be replaced by the NHS 111 triage service after seeing one of its early pilot sites in action.

The new service is being rolled out on a local basis, but is due to cover the whole country by next year. NHS Direct has won a significant number of NHS 111 contracts, but others have gone to ambulance and out-of-hours services.

Chapman said: “With the organisation changing so radically, it is the right time for me to leave to pursue new opportunities.

“I am delighted that my colleague, Trevor Smith, has been appointed, and I know that he will do a fantastic job. I wish him and everyone who will be working for NHS Direct in the future, the very best.

“I am still 100 percent committed to overseeing the 0845 service in its final months, ensuring that staff are supported into roles with the future NHS Direct, or with other organisations, and that patients continue to receive a high quality and safe service.”

Joanne Shaw, NHS Direct’s chair, said that without Chapman’s “inspired and determined leadership” NHS Direct would not have survived for as long as it has and won NHS 111 business.

“The NHS Direct of the future will be a very different place, and I am convinced that Trevor is the right person to steer the new organisation as it works with commissioners to create value for patients and the NHS,” she added.