Report: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA
A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre, according to The Associated Press.
Medical professionals from coast to coast have pointed out problems at the VA, only to suffer retaliation from supervisors and other high-ranking officials, according to a report Monday by a private government watchdog.
The report compiled by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a group that conducts its own investigations and works with whistleblowers, is based on comments and complaints filed by nearly 800 current and former VA employees and veterans. Comments indicate that concerns about the VA go far beyond the long waiting times or falsified appointment records that have received much recent attention, extending to the quality of health care services veterans receive, the report said.
The group set up a website in mid-May for complaints and said it has received allegations of wrongdoing from 35 states and the District of Columbia.
The group’s executive director, however, says that VA employees across the country fear they will face repercussions if they dare to raise a dissenting voice and “until we eliminate the culture of intimidation and climate of fear, no reforms will be able to turn this broken agency around.”
A federal investigative agency says it is examining 67 claims of retaliation by supervisors at the VA against employees who filed whistleblower complaints. The independent Office of Special Counsel said 30 of the complaints about retaliation have passed the initial review stage and are being further investigated for corrective action and possible discipline against VA supervisors and other executives.
The VA’s acting inspector general, Richard Griffin, has issued a subpoena demanding that POGO turn over a list of whistleblowers who filed complaints through its website, which is operated jointly with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The groups have refused, saying release of the names would violate the promise they made to whistleblowers.
Griffin’s office said last week it is investigating possible wrongdoing at 87 VA medical facilities nationwide, up from 69 last month.
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