A commissioning support unit managing director has been suspended from work for more than two months, HSJ has learned.

Tim Andrews, of Cheshire and Merseyside CSU, was suspended around 10 weeks ago amid an NHS England investigation into the unit.

HSJ understands the clinical commissioning groups which are customers of the unit are angry that neither the CSU nor NHS England had informed them about the suspension or investigation for a long period of time.

The suspension took effect when NHS England began an investigation into the CSU.

HSJ understands the investigation is ongoing and is now focusing in particular on governance of the CSU. It is expected to conclude by the end of the month.

Its CCG customers are angry at NHS England because they feel the authority, which hosts CSUs and is responsible for their development, has not been open with them about the seriousness of the circumstances surrounding Mr Andrews’ absence.

CCG sources told HSJ that they should have been kept fully up to date because of the vital strategic importance of the CSU to their commissioning operations. They said they would have expected to be briefed if the leader of a provider trust or private supplier were absent for an extended period of time.

Vale Royal CCG chair Jon Griffiths, a GP, said: “We have a CSU managing director missing in action.

“We are important clients for the CSU – we should be kept informed. If this was one of our main provider trusts or another commercial supplier, I like to think we would have been fully briefed.

“With this we haven’t heard anything at all about why he is off or how long he is likely to be off for -he could be ill, suspended, he could have changed job, we have no idea.”

Another CCG source told HSJ that the first time they were officially informed of Mr Andrews’ suspension was late yesterday after HSJ contacted NHS England about it.

HSJ understands many staff in the CSU were not fully informed of the situation.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: “An investigation into governance arrangements at Cheshire and Merseyside CSU is currently underway.  It would be inappropriate for NHS England to comment while this is ongoing.”

It was announced in February that the Cheshire and Merseyside CSU would merge with Greater Manchester CSU.