An inquiry into the governance of a commissioning support unit and the conduct of its managing director has found ‘no adverse issues’, NHS England has told HSJ.

Tim Andrews has now left Cheshire and Merseyside CSU following its merger with Greater Manchester CSU.

Speaking to HSJ following his departure, Mr Andrews also expressed frustration over “waning” interest in making CSUs independent of NHS England.

HSJ understands that at least two investigations were conducted into a number of alleged governance breaches relating to the CSU generally and Mr Andrews’ leadership of it in particular.

An NHS England spokeswoman said the inquiry concluded “a few months ago”.

“We are pleased to confirm that the investigation concluded that there were no adverse issues in the governance of the CSU or the conduct of its managing director Tim Andrews in this regard.”

NHS England refused HSJ’s request to release copies of the reports.

As Cheshire and Merseyside has been absorbed into North West CSU, which is being led by Leigh Griffin, “there is no longer an operational need for two [managing director] posts,” the spokeswoman added.

Mr Andrews officially left the employment of NHS England, which hosts CSUs, on 19 December.

He said: “It has been a really tough decision to move on to pastures new.

“I have been continuously impressed with the amazing team that we developed in the CSU who have faced some huge challenges with immense fortitude, perseverance and commitment to improving healthcare.”

But he also expressed frustration with the direction NHS England’s CSU policy was taking, particularly in relation to autonomy.

While the initial policy had been for CSUs to become “freestanding enterprises” by the end of 2016, this was changed to “autonomous” during 2013, with an option for them to be owned by clinical commissioning groups, and NHS England suggesting it could retain a long term stake in the units.

More recently, NHS England delayed the release of guidance on autonomy until after May’s general election.

Mr Andrews said: “As the process went on it also became clear that there was certainly a waning focus on autonomy centrally, and obviously the announcement that this was effectively to be pushed back past the election confirmed this.

“I did feel, perhaps controversially, that it was ultimately the goal of becoming fit to operate independently of NHS England and the freedoms inherent in that approach that would really drive the improvements in performance and also innovation that CCGs and other clients really need.

“The autonomy strategy was one of the key motivators for me personally because it was something I felt my skills and experience best supported.

“With the prospect of that end point becoming more distant, it did reinforce my sense that it was the right time to move on and to let those more experienced in managing NHS bodies take the lead.”