Hillingdon primary care trust has signed a three-year deal with BUPA to help it commission services.

It is the first pilot of the government's framework for securing external support for commissioners (FESC) to sign a deal.

BUPA Commissioning will help analyse activity data supplied by trusts that the PCT commissions from "to resolve areas of over-commissioning".

The PCT will pay BUPA£350,000 a year for three years, over which it hopes to save£11m.

Six other NHS organisations are piloting the framework, using one of the 14 approved suppliers. None has yet started pilots although some are holding initial talks with potential suppliers.

Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT's board is to consider an outline business case to support practice-based commissioners across its patch on 27 February.

HSJ understands that DH director general of commissioning and system management Mark Britnell held a meeting with the 14 FESC companies on Monday in an attempt to allay concerns over the pace of implementation by the PCT pilot sites.

HSJ has also learned that the list could be cut to 13 companies if Health Dialog Services Corporation is removed following its takeover by BUPA Commissioning.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Discussions are ongoing between the DH and PCTs piloting the FESC process to finalise their commissioning requirements."