Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson warns that things will get worse before they get better.
Despite the intense national media spotlight on the long delays many Veterans endure before seeing a doctor at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the waiting game is only getting worse, according to VA statistics released earlier this month.
As Stars & Stripes reports, a shockingly increased number of Veterans waited more than a month for health care appointments in June compared with the prior month.
The number of Veterans waiting for their first appointment doubled or even tripled at most VA hospitals and clinics across the country, according to VA’s latest numbers.
Overall, the number of Veterans waiting more than 30 days rose from 242,059 in mid-May to 636,436 in mid-June.
A VA hospital in Honolulu went from having 480 to 2,057, according to Stars & Stripes. In New Orleans, the number went from 708 to 3,624. And a Boston VA hospital went from 1,389 to 3,506.
“The data shows that there have been drastically and dramatically increasing numbers of cases involving substantial delays in health care,” Senator Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) told WTNH Television in Connecticut.
While this is dismaying, it is not surprising. Acting VA director Sloan Gibson has said that wait times will grow as VA addresses this outrageous nationwide scandal and reaches out to Veterans who have not received the care they need and deserve.
“As we continue to address systemic challenges in accessing care,” Gibson said in a statement, “these regular data updates enhance transparency and provide the most immediate information to veterans and the public on improvements to veterans’ access to quality health care.”
Neither Gibson nor anyone else at VA has released any sort of timetable for when things might start to improve. It remains to be seen if or when the agency can live up to its promise to substantially reduce wait times for Veterans. But we’re closely monitoring this and will keep you informed.