SIPTU representatives have today (Thursday, 25th March) written to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, criticising his refusal to meet student radiographers and expressing extreme disappointment over his lack of commitment to address any of the serious concerns over clinical placements during the pandemic. SIPTU Industrial Organiser, John McCamley, said: “The response from the Minister's office is not acceptable. Student radiographers over the last year have put their lives at risk carry out frontline work for no financial reward and to be left high and dry by the Minister is completely shocking. It is scandalous that up to 400 student radiographers continue to make an essential contribution to the health service and are not being recognised for their work. “The reality is that clinical placements involve direct patient care and assisting qualified radiographers in hospital X-ray departments and theatres. The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by student radiographers. Due to fears of cross-contamination, lockdowns and public health restrictions many students are unable to earn any income by working part-time, causing them further financial difficulties. Student radiographers with no choice but to self-isolate have to make up the time later in the year. They are not entitled to sick pay or any of the other protections enjoyed by directly employed health staff even though they face many of the same challenges and risks as other frontline workers.” He added: “At a very minimum, student radiographers should be treated like other student groups carrying out clinical placements in the health service. SIPTU representatives are again calling on the Minister to address the issues and concerns of student radiographers as a matter of priority.”