June 4, 2014; Washington, D.C.
In the past few weeks, many have begun to question the credibility and reliability of the Veterans Administration. The May 28, 2014 report from the VA Inspector General states that “reviews at a growing number of VA medical facilities have thus far provided insight into the current extent of these inappropriate scheduling issues throughout the VA health care system and have confirmed that inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic throughout VHA.” The inspector general further noted that “one challenge in these reviews is to determine whether these practices exist currently or were used in the past and subsequently corrected by VA managers.”
We don't think that VA doctors should be penalized by a broken system. VA doctors and dentists remain committed to providing the exceptional care that we have always provided. In survey after survey it is made clear that our care and skills are not only exemplary, but preferred by our veterans.
NAVAPD wants to help the Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress to move in a more productive direction and has prepared this statement in an effort to successfully find and implement corrective actions. We believe our recommendations should be viewed as a common sense approach to provide the best care for our veterans.
VA doctors and dentists need to be an integral part of the decision-making process that will have to be undertaken to right what is wrong with the administrative failings of the VA healthcare system. We are on the front lines. We know what the proper care and medical needs are of our veterans and we need to be brought into the process of finding solutions now.
Impediments to timely response to Veterans’ needs are codified within procedures and processes defined within the VA; these impediments need to be identified and fixed. Procedures and processes are inconsistent, inconsistently applied, and often prevent efficient use of personnel. VA management needs to recognize demonstrated best management practices at other nonprofit, nongovernmental, integrated health care delivery systems. Until these fundamental problems are corrected, hiring more physicians, dentist, nurses and technicians, cannot alone fix our problems, if they continue to be ineffectively utilized.
Additional legislation, while well intended, may not be needed and may worsen the dysfunction. The focus may become the new rules themselves, rather than focusing on improving and expediting patient care.
Common sense priorities for reform must include:
- how the current professional staff can be more productive;
- reduction in paperwork required of the professional staff;
- a direct reporting structure for physicians into the VA Central Office at a senior level;
- a strategic top-to-bottom independent review of existing resources budgets, and systems, with necessary input from VA physicians and dentists; and
- elimination of the many layers of unproductive bureaucracy.
NAVAPD leadership welcomes our professional medical colleagues from the national veterans’ service organizations to join with us in meeting with and assisting VA leadership about how best the VA can serve veterans and their short and long-term healthcare needs. We are working with the leadership in the House and Senate on these issues, and are ready to work together to implement real and effective systemic changes that will support our veterans.
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