NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – How many times have you complained about having a hard time getting an appointment with your family doctor? Let’s face it; nowadays everyone is on a waiting list.
In fact, according to a survey conducted by Merritt Hawkins, an Irving-based healthcare search and consulting firm, people living in the metroplex will wait an average of five days for a doctor’s appointment.
But if you’re a veteran living in the Dallas area, you can expect a wait time that’s 12 times that amount. That’s right, seeing a private doctor will take you five days, while at the Dallas VA it’s an average of 60 days.
The Veteran’s Administration wait time scandal in Phoenix recently pushed auditors to take a harder look at wait times in hospitals across the country. Their recent audits include a visit to Dallas in early May.
There’s no question – the data shows if you’re trying to get an appointment through the Dallas VA Hospital System, you’re going to wait weeks, sometimes months, to see someone. How long you’ll wait is dependent on the type of care you need.
To put things in perspective the CBS 11 News I-Team compared the Dallas VA numbers to information released out of Phoenix, where all this started, and Houston, another big VA Hospital System in Texas.
If you’re dealing with the Dallas VA and need a primary care appointment, expect a 60-day average wait. In Houston it’s 44 days and in Phoenix it’s 55.
For specialty care visits, like cardiology, diabetes treatment, or surgery, Dallas area veterans can expect a 59-day wait. In Houston it’s an average of 58 days and in Phoenix it’s nearly 45 days.
Mental health appointments will take nearly 50 days for Dallas vets. But in Houston the wait is closer to 39 days and in Phoenix it’s 45.
Just last week Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson shared his disappointment and frustration with the system.
“In far too many incidences and in far too many locations, we’ve let our veterans down,” Gibson admitted. “They’re waiting too long for care and, in many instances, we have a number of staff members that are acting in inappropriate practices.”
To put things in perspective, the Dallas VA did field 95,514 appointment calls during the audit period. For 88,528 of those calls, appointments were set up within 30 days or less; that translates into 93-percent.
But it’s that leftover 7-percent that waited longer than 30 days that has members of congress is unhappy.
That 7-percent included 1,042 veterans waiting between 91-120 days for an appointment and 160 vets that waited more than 120 days to get an appointment.
“This report makes it clear that the only people benefiting from our current VA health care system are the bureaucrats who put their own bonuses over veterans’ care,” U.S. Senator John Cornyn said today. “Now that we have further confirmation of the systemic nature of these problems, President Obama must direct the FBI to investigate the allegations of criminal misconduct. Our nation’s veterans deserve access to a health care system that puts their needs as the top priority.”
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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