An audit released by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday indicated that more than 57,000 veterans have been waiting three months or longer for their first appointment with a VA facility.

From the Associated Press:

More than 57,000 U.S. military veterans have been waiting 90 days or more for their first VA medical appointments, and an additional 64,000 appear to have fallen through the cracks, never getting appointments after enrolling and requesting them, the Veterans Affairs Department said Monday.

It’s not just a backlog problem, the wide-ranging review indicated. Thirteen percent of schedulers in the facility-by-facility report on 731 hospitals and outpatient clinics reported being told by supervisors to falsify appointment schedules to make patient waits appear shorter.

The audit is the first nationwide look at the VA network in the uproar that began with reports two months ago of patients dying while awaiting appointments and of cover-ups at the Phoenix VA center. A preliminary review last month found that long patient waits and falsified records were “systemic” throughout the VA medical network, the nation’s largest single health care provider serving nearly 9 million veterans.

The report indicated that as part of its actions to address the problems identified, the VA would “critically review its performance management, education and communication systems to determine how performance goals were conveyed across the chain of command such that some front-line, middle and senior managers felt compelled to manipulate VA’s scheduling processes.”

Late last month, upon the resignation of then VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, it was announced that 14-day wait time target goals would no longer be considered in employee job reviews, and that top level agency officials would not receive performance bonuses this year, according to another AP report.

The release of this latest review also follows the announcement last week that the Office of Special Counsel is investigating allegations of retaliation against dozens of whistleblowers in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

You can read the full report released Monday here.

Video report from CNN below.


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