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More than 57,000 await initial VA appointments

WASHINGTON – More than 57,000 patients are still waiting for initial medical appointments at VA hospitals and clinics 90 days or more after requesting them, the Veterans Affairs Department said Monday.

An additional 64,000 who enrolled in the VA health care system over the past 10 years have never had appointments.

An audit of 731 VA hospitals and large outpatient clinics found that the agency’s complicated appointment process created confusion among scheduling clerks and supervisors, the department said. The audit said a 14-day goal for seeing first-time patients was unattainable given the growing demand among veterans for health care and poor planning. The VA has since abandoned that goal.

The audit said 13 percent of VA schedulers reported supervisors telling them to falsify appointment dates to make waiting times appear shorter.

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