July 31, 2019 / 5:56 PM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 1-Ontario needs more healthcare funding, says report on serial killer nurse

(Adds comment from provincial government, further details from report)

By Moira Warburton

July 31 (Reuters) - Ontario needs to boost funding and staffing to resolve problems that allowed a Canadian nurse to murder eight and harm six other seniors in various nursing homes, according to a public inquiry report on Wednesday which called for sweeping changes to the province’s long-term care system.

Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a nurse at several long-term care facilities in southwestern Ontario, was convicted in 2017 of murdering the patients by intentionally overdosing them with insulin. Wettlaufer’s crimes went undetected until she confessed.

The report, written by Justice Eileen Gillese, put forward 91 recommendations to avoid future healthcare serial killings.

It declined to find any individual responsible, instead pointing to a “strained but not broken” system.

The report also recommended expanding oversight for nurses and raising awareness about healthcare serial killers.

“It appears that no one in the long-term care system conceived of the possibility that a healthcare provider might intentionally harm those within their care and, consequently, no one looked for this or took steps to guard against it,” Gillese said in her public remarks at the report’s release in Woodstock, Ontario.

Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s minister for long-term care, said the government would provide new funding to help address the report’s recommendations.

“I take Justice Gillese’s recommendations very seriously and together with the Attorney General, the Minister of Health, the Solicitor General, and the full support of the government, we will be comprehensively reviewing the recommendations over the coming weeks to determine next steps,” Fullerton said in a press release.

Wettlaufer’s crimes were discovered in 2016 when she told her therapist that she had committed the murders. She then made a confession to Ontario Provincial Police, saying she had told multiple people over the years but no one had believed her. She pleaded guilty to the crimes in 2017, and was sentenced to 25 years in jail without parole.

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care should release an update in a year on its progress in achieving the recommendations, the report said. (Reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Richard Chang)

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