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updated: 6/23/2014 11:26 AM

Veterans Affairs challenged on handling of whistleblower charges

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Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson says he is deeply disappointed that whistleblower complaints about patient care are not being taken seriously.

He is agreeing with the federal official responsible for investigating complaints from government whistleblowers that the VA hasn't taken those complaints seriously.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Carolyn Lerner of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said the VA continues to say patient care has been unaffected by errors. She says that is preventing the VA from taking necessary steps to improve.

Lerner says the office is reviewing more than 50 complaints alleging threats to patient health and safety and has referred 29 of them to the VA for investigation.

Gibson said he has told the agency's workforce that intimidation of whistleblowers won't be tolerated.

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