Audit: More than 57,000 await initial VA medical appointments

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Audit: More than 57,000 await initial VA medical appointments
HINES, IL - MAY 30: A sign marks the entrance to the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital on May 30, 2014 in Hines, Illinois. Hines, which is located in suburban Chicago, has been linked to allegations that administrators kept secret waiting lists at Veterans Administration hospitals so hospital executives could collect bonuses linked to meeting standards for rapid treatment. Today, as the scandal continued to grow, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized in public and then resigned from his post. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers a statement after meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki at the White House in Washington, DC, May 21, 2014. Veterans have had to wait months to see a doctor at some hospitals, and allegations have arisen that administrators at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, covered up the delays there. As many as 40 patients were reported to have died while waiting to be seen by a VA doctor. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
This May 19, 2014 photo shows a a sign in front of the Veterans Affairs building in Washington, DC. The VA and Secretary Eric Shinseki are under fire amid reports by former and current VA employees that up to 40 patients may have died because of delayed treatment at an agency hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers a statement after meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki at the White House in Washington, DC, May 21, 2014. Veterans have had to wait months to see a doctor at some hospitals, and allegations have arisen that administrators at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, covered up the delays there. As many as 40 patients were reported to have died while waiting to be seen by a VA doctor. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Bill Bradshaw, director of national veterans service for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), listens during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 15, 2014. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said he is 'mad as hell' over allegations of treatment delays and cover-ups at VA health clinics in Phoenix and Fort Collins, Colorado. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Bernard 'Bernie' Sanders, an independent from Vermont and chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, makes an opening statement during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 15, 2014. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said he is 'mad as hell' over allegations of treatment delays and cover-ups at VA health clinics in Phoenix and Fort Collins, Colorado. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (C) listens to American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger (L) speak during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing that is focusing on wait times veterans face to get medical care May 15, 2014 in Washington, DC. The American Legion called Monday for the resignation of Shinseki amid reports by former and current VA employees that up to 40 patients may have died because of delayed treatment at an agency hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
FILE--The Phoenix VA Health Care Center in Phoenix, is seen in this Monday, April 28, 2014, file photo. A team of federal investigators swept into the city last month amid allegations of a disturbing cover-up at the veterans hospital, and began interviewing staff at the facility and poring over records, emails and electronic databases.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Sen. John McCain embraces Gabriel Basso after she shared how her veteran husband died during a forum with veterans on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. McCain was discussing lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital that prompted a national review of operations around the country. (AP Photo/Matt York)
FILE - Veteran Mark Howey waits to ask a question as Sen. John McCain speaks during a forum with veterans regarding lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital, on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. Grieving family members of dead veterans have joined politicians from both parties in loud protests over VA care. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Sen. John McCain speaks during a forum with veterans on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. McCain was discussing lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital that prompted a national review of operations around the country. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Veterans listen as Sen. John McCain speaks during a forum with veterans on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. McCain was discussing lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital that prompted a national review of operations around the country. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Sen. John McCain listens to complaints from veterans during a forum with veterans on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. McCain was discussing lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital that prompted a national review of operations around the country. (AP Photo/Matt York)
FILE - Sen. John McCain, left, R-AZ, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, hold a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, adjacent to the VA Hospital in this Friday, April 18, 2014 file photo taken in Phoenix. Growing concerns about allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center have resulted in a commitment by the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing, members of Arizona's congressional delegation said Thursday April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
FILE - With Vietnam military veteran Chuck Tharp, right, listening in, Sen. John McCain, second from left, R-AZ, and Sen. Jeff Flake, left, R-AZ, finish up a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, adjacent to the VA Hospital in this Friday, April 18, 2014 file photo taken in Phoenix. Growing concerns about allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center have resulted in a commitment by the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing, members of Arizona's congressional delegation said Thursday April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
FILE - Sen. Jeff Flake, left, R-AZ, shakes hands and speaks with Vietnam veteran Chuck Tharp, right, after a news conference where Flake and Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, discussed recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System in this Friday, April 18, 2014 file photo taken in Phoenix. Growing concerns about allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center have resulted in a commitment by the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing, members of Arizona's congressional delegation said Thursday April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
Joined by military veterans and local politicians, Sen. John McCain, second from right, R-AZ, and Sen. Jeff Flake, far right, R-AZ, hold a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System on Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
With the VA Hospital in the background, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, speaks and Sen. Jeff Flake, front right, R-AZ, listens at a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System on Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A military veteran stands next to his bicycle as Sen. John McCain, left, R-Az, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Az, arrive for a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
HINES, IL - MAY 30: A sign marks the entrance to the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital on May 30, 2014 in Hines, Illinois. Hines, which is located in suburban Chicago, has been linked to allegations that administrators kept secret waiting lists at Veterans Administration hospitals so hospital executives could collect bonuses linked to meeting standards for rapid treatment. Today, as the scandal continued to grow, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized in public and then resigned from his post. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 57,000 veterans have been waiting for up to three months for medical appointments, the Veterans Affairs Department said in a wide-ranging audit released Monday. An additional 64,000 who enrolled for VA health care over the past decade have never been seen by a doctor, according to the audit.

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. Examining 731 VA hospitals and large outpatient clinics, the audit found long wait times across the country for patients seeking their first appointments with both primary care doctors and specialists.

The audit said a 14-day target for waiting times was "not attainable," given growing demand for VA services and poor planning. It called the 2011 decision by senior VA officials setting it, and then basing bonuses on meeting the target "an organizational leadership failure."

VA Audit Finds 100,000 Veterans Face Long Wait Times


The audit is the third in a series of reports in the past month into long wait times and falsified records at VA facilities nationwide. The controversy forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign May 30. Shinseki took the blame for what he decried as a "lack of integrity" in the sprawling system providing health care to the nation's military veterans.

The audit released Monday said 13 percent of VA schedulers reported getting instructions from supervisors or others to falsify appointment dates in order to meet on-time performance goals. About 8 percent of schedulers said they used alternatives to an official electronic waiting list, often under pressure to make waiting times appear more favorable.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said the audit showed "systemic problems" that demand immediate action. VA officials have contacted 50,000 veterans across the country to get them off waiting lists and into clinics, Gibson said, and are in the process of contacting an additional 40,000 veterans.
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