A top Veterans Affairs official has resigned amid the ongoing VA hospital records scandal, but it was not Secretary Eric Shinseki. Instead, Undersecretary Robert Pretzel has handed in his resignation letter, a day after he and Shinseki were questioned by a Senate committee.
Shinseki, who has refused to resign himself, said in a statement that he accepted Pretzel’s resignation, reports NBC News.
“As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care,” Shinseki stated. “I am committed to strengthening veterans' trust and confidence in their VA healthcare system.”
Pretzel’s resignation came a day after the Senate committee on Veterans’ Affairs questioned Shinseki and Pretzel on the ongoing scandal.
Shinseki said that he is “mad as hell” over what is going on, with records falsified at VA hospitals around the country to show that veterans had been receiving care on time even when they haven’t. The situation at the Phoenix VA has been front and center, as it was reported that 40 veterans allegedly died there due to delayed health care.
On Thursday, Pretzel did write an opinion piece for USA Today, in which he vowed that the VA will do better.
“We take any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously, and I am personally saddened by any adverse consequence that a veteran might experience while in, or as a result of, our care,” Pretzel wrote. “If allegations regarding misconduct and patient care are true, they are completely unacceptable — to veterans, to Secretary Shinseki, to me and to our dedicated employees.”
According to USA Today, Pretzel had said last fall that he would retire this year. The Obama Administration nominated Dr. Jeffrey A. Murawsky to replace him.