Surgeon accused of bullying ‘no longer works for Monash Health’

The Monash Medical Centre.

The Monash Medical Centre. Photo: Wayne Hawkins

 

A senior neurosurgeon accused of intimidating junior staff and throwing surgical instruments while working at Melbourne’s largest public hospital network has cut ties with her employer.

Three weeks after The Age revealed Monash Health was investigating bullying allegations against Helen Maroulis, a spokesman for the hospital group said she had left the organisation which runs Monash Medical Centre in Clayton and Dandenong, Moorabbin and Casey hospitals.  

“Dr Helen Maroulis no longer works for Monash Health.  We wish her well in the future,” the spokesman said.

Helen Maroulis.

Helen Maroulis.

 

The spokesman refused to comment on Monash Health’s investigation into the neurosurgeon – a former director of surgical training who was said to shout at staff, make unreasonable demands of them, and throw surgical instruments instead of handing them back to assistants.

Last month, junior doctor Imogen Ibbett levelled these claims against Ms Maroulis on ABC’s Four Corners program, which reported other staff were also scared of her. Dr Ibbett, who has since moved on from Monash Health, said she felt constant fear while working under Ms Maroulis, who was “extremely abusive”.

“A lot of the nursing staff won’t work with her. A lot of them are very, very scared of her,” Dr Ibbett told Four Corners.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, which is responsible for training programs, is also investigating the matter, partly to ensure Monash Health is providing a safe and fair working environment for trainee surgeons.

A spokeswoman for the college said she could not comment on the outcome of its investigation yet.

Ms Maroulis could not be reached for comment. It is unclear if she chose to leave her job at Monash Health or not.

Some of her peers have contacted Fairfax Media to express support for her. While they would not comment on the allegations against her, they say she may be innocent and that other factors could be motivating complaints against her. 

The bullying investigation comes seven years after Ms Maroulis backed Chris Xenos, a neurosurgeon accused of sexually harassing one of his trainees, Caroline Tan, by propositioning her for sex at Monash Medical Centre in 2006.

During a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing in 2008, Ms Maroulis accused Ms Tan of dressing provocatively and said she had “set the cause of feminism back 50 years” by making the complaint against Mr Xenos, who emphatically denied harassing her.

Ms Tan won the case and was awarded $100,000 in damages but Mr Xenos has continued to work at Monash Medical Centre.