A petition which was circulating around Sligo General Hospital and the immediate hinterland has now extended to both Donegal and Leitrim following the news that a Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist who has been there for the last four years will not have his contract renewed.
It’s understood Dr. Raouf Sallam-who is based in Sligo General Hospital and also maintains a successful private practice will finish up in his post at the end of July.
Staff from Sligo General Hospital along with other members of the medical profession in Sligo and both current patients and former patients of Dr. Sallam have all signed a petition lobbying for his retention at the hospital.
There was widespread shock yesterday morning when it emerged on Ocean FM that the popular doctor’s contract was not been renewed with many callers and text describing Dr. Sallam as one of the “most capable, dedicated and caring doctor” to hold this position.
Andrea Gilligan of Ocean FM told the Donegal Democrat, “To be quite honest we are amazed with the reaction that this story has stirred.
“The phones and texts just kept coming so much so that we could have devoted the whole programme to the issue.
“This is not just a Sligo issue - we received many calls from former patients in South Donegal who could not speak more highly about this man. Obviously he has huge support all over the North West and people seem to be determined to keep him here.”
Dr. Helen Fitzimons who runs a family practice but who is also a former patient of Dr. Sallam described the doctor as one of the most caring men she has encountered.
“He is totally dedicated, always there and available practically 24/7 - he is one of those people who seems to be always ‘on call’ and always at the other end of a phone.
“I cannot see the logic in replacing Dr. Sallam - it is like trying to fix something that isn’t broken.
“This man has an impeccable record and enjoys the confidence of the vast majority of women in the North West.
“Regrettably if he goes, the scanning facilities that he operates will probably go as well. It defies logic.”
Speaking to this newspaper Dr. Sallam’s wife Gael said, “ We have been living in Sligo now for over four years and are extremely happy.
“Our children aged 7 and 11 are at school locally and quite honestly we feel very much part of the local community.
“This whole thing has come as a bombshell to us - Raouf was only told last week and really it is only sinking in.
“He is not being transferred to another hospital - he is simply being let go without having had the opportunity to put in applications to other hospitals.
“I just cannot understand why someone who is familiar with the hospital and the general area is being let go to be replaced by someone who will have to adapt to a totally new situation.
“I would be hoping that we can come to some form of compromise - we do not want to leave Sligo and are heartened by the support that we have received from patients and members of the medical profession in Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim.
In a statement yesterday afternoon the HSE said that there is a complement of three permanent Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologists at Sligo General Hospital and that two of these posts are currently filled on a permanent basis and one on a temporary basis.
The spokesperson for the Executive says the third permanent post was advertised and interviews held by Public Appointment Service.
The HSE further confirmed that a permanent consultant candidate has been recommended for appointment and is due to take up post at the end of July. and that the current temporary post holder’s contract of employment will therefore cease at end of July.