Audit Found Systemic Problems in VA Care Access

A Veterans Affairs Department audit found “a strong basis to commence immediate action” to correct “systemic” problems within the VA medical care system. Among the findings, the scheduling process for care is “overly complicated” and creates “high potential to create confusion among scheduling clerks and front-line supervisors,” state the report’s findings. The audit took place from May 12 to June 3. The VA’s target of a 14-day waiting period for new appointments is “not attainable,” as the demand for services exceeds the number of provider slots available, found the auditors. They also found that staff fabricated forms, at the instruction of supervisors, in some cases, or utilized “inappropriate practices” to make waiting times for veterans appear more favorable than they were. The report, released on June 9, also found staffing challenges, particularly in clinics, where there were either not enough providers to meet the need or not enough administrative support. Excessive wait times for veterans to receive VA medical care reportedly led to scores of veterans’ deaths. Outrage over this resulted in the resignation of Eric Shinseki as VA secretary on May 30. Sloan Gibson is currently the acting secretary. (VA access audit report)