NHS Direct West Yorkshire is being separated from the ambulance service.

The organisation, which is marking five years of service in the county, has been given Special Health Authority status.

It means it will no longer come under the auspices of the West Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

The organisation, which employs more than 200 staff locally, was formed in April, 1999, to provide confidential nurse advice and health information across the county.

The West Yorkshire site covers Kirklees, Calderdale, Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and the Craven area of North Yorkshire, serving a population of about 2.2m people.

The 24-hour health and information telephone service is staffed by qualified nurses, patient contact assistants and experienced health information advisers.

On average, NHS Direct West Yorkshire answers more than 6,800 calls every week.

Since April, 1999, the West Yorkshire service has answered more than 1.5m calls.

Michela Littlewood, lead nurse and general manager of NHS Direct West Yorkshire, said: "The service has established itself and is extremely valuable to the thousands of people who use it across West Yorkshire each week.

"We have developed significantly since we were set up five years ago - from taking 40 calls per day in 1999 to in excess of 1,100 calls per day in 2004. The service is an important part of the NHS."

In the summer, NHS Direct Digital TV will be launched in stages across the digital TV networks, providing people with further choice in the way they can access health information from the NHS.