Report: 1,700 in-need Arizona veterans not on any wait list

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PHOENIX (KPHO) — An interim report released by investigators looking into serious allegations at the Phoenix VA has found multiple patient wait lists and scheduling practices that violate VA policies.

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its first official report since the review began last month.

The review has found veterans in Phoenix have waited an average of 115 days for their first primary care appointment. The Phoenix VA had reported the wait was only 26 days.

The investigations show that discrepancy is because veterans waiting for an appointment were not put on an official list.

Among the allegations are that patients were dying on secret wait lists and that there was gross mismanagement by mid- and upper-level staff.

According to the OIG’s report summary, “Allegations at the Phoenix HCS include gross mismanagement of VA resources and criminal misconduct by VA senior hospital leadership, creating systemic patient safety issues and possible wrongful deaths.”

The interim report verified that delays in the care negatively impacted the quality of care, but it did not include information on whether those delays resulted in the death of any veteran.

The OIG is recommending the VA secretary take “immediate action” to provide care for the 1,700 in-need veterans that were identified as not being on any wait list and is asking for a review of all existing wait lists at the Phoenix VA Health Care System to identify veterans who may be at the greatest risk because of the delay in healthcare.

They’re expected to initiate a nationwide review of veterans on wait lists and recommend the VA secretary direct the Health Eligibility Center to run a nationwide “new enrollee appointment request” report to ensure all veterans have received appropriate healthcare or are shown on the facility’s electronic waiting list.

The OIG said it will make recommendations in the final report and ask the VA secretary to submit target dates and implementation plans.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, appeared on CNN Wednesday morning and was asked whether VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign.

“I think it’s reached that point. I wasn’t going to call for it. I was waiting for the hearing that’s going to take place very soon, but this keeps piling up. It can’t be isolated. The Phoenix VA is not an island,” McCain said.

McCain held news conference Wednesday afternoon at his Phoenix office to discuss the report.