WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the shortcomings of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) ability to recruit and retain medical personnel. The report was requested by U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, and Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO). Akaka also announced that he will reintroduce legislation to improve recruitment and retention of VA medical personnel in the next Congress.
"VA cannot provide quality health care if it cannot recruit and retain a qualified health care workforce. Nurses play an absolutely vital role in caring for sick and injured veterans, and as GAO has found, VA should be doing more to develop its nurses," said Akaka.
"With the rising demands on the VA system and a nationwide nursing shortage, it is more important than ever that the VA be able to hire and keep the most qualified medical professionals. I appreciate the work of the GAO to provide straightforward guidance on how the VA can better recruit and retain a qualified nursing staff and I hope the VA will swiftly implement the recommendations," said Salazar.
On May 1, 2008, Akaka introduced S. 2969, the Veterans' Medical Personnel Recruitment and Retention Act of 2008, to address VA medical staffing issues. While S. 2969 did not receive Senate action this year, Akaka has vowed to reintroduce VA medical personnel legislation next year. "VA should be the workplace of choice for qualified medical personnel. I look forward to reintroducing my legislation next year."
The GAO report outlined how hiring practices and rigid work schedules hold back VA's ability to hire and keep the most qualified medical professionals. S. 2969, among other things, would have expanded work schedule options and otherwise strengthened VA's capacity for recruitment and retention.
GAO's report is available here.