Shinseki apologizes for VA scandal, initiates removal of Phoenix hospital leaders


The Associated Press

Posted on May 30, 2014 at 7:46 AM

Updated Friday, May 30 at 8:43 AM

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WASHINGTON -- Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki says he's ousting the leadership of the Phoenix VA hospital after revelations about the delays in care for veterans.

A VA watchdog's report says some 1,700 veterans have been waiting for medical appointments at the hospital but were not on a list, putting them "at risk of being forgotten or lost."

Investigators also concluded that inappropriate scheduling practices were a systemic problem nationwide. Speaking to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans this morning,

Shinseki apologized, saying veterans deserve better and such integrity problems at the VA must be fixed now.

"We now know that VA has a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity within some of our veterans' health facilities," Shinseki said Friday morning. "That breach of trust involved the tracking of patient wait times for appointments. Our initial findings of our ongoing, internal review of other large VA health facilities also show that to be true. That breach of integrity is irresponsible, it is indefensible and unacceptable to me.

"So given the facts I now know, I apologize as the leader leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs. I extend an apology to the people I care most deeply about. That's the veterans of this great country. To their families and loved ones I have been honored to serve for over five years now. It's the calling of a lifetime.

"I am just announcing that I am taking the following actions. I've initiated the process for the removal of the senior leaders of the Phoenix VA Medical Center.

"We will use all authority at our disposal to enforce accountability among senior leaders who tolerated dishonorable or irresponsible scheduling practices at VA health care facilities. I've also directed that no VHA senior executive will receive any type of performance award from 2014, this year."