Removal of the EMIS panic button has been delayed again until January to give GP practices more time to arrange a ‘replacement solution’.
Practices now have until the end of October to let EMIS know if they want to retain the feature.
Earlier this year, the supplier decided to remove the panic button due to problems with its functionality.
However, EMIS later backtracked on this decision, confirming that the feature would remain for those who wish to keep it, after GPs raised concerns amid rising levels of abuse.
The removal for all other practices was due to go ahead from 29 September, but EMIS has now postponed this move until January 2024.
An EMIS spokesperson told Pulse: ‘We have postponed the removal of the panic button feature to give customers more time to work on a replacement solution.’
The button is currently displayed on every EMIS Web screen and it can be used to send an alert to all other logged-on PCs at the practice. This can be useful in situations where staff feel threatened due to verbal or physical abuse from patients.
EMIS said in March that it had been made aware that certain local network configurations ‘prevent the panic button functionality from operating as designed’, and the decision to remove it was made after an internal investigation and ‘in-depth technology review’.
When this announcement was made, GPs told Pulse of their concerns that the button’s removal would put their safety at risk, with one GP saying it came at a time when patient aggression is the highest she has ever seen.
Pulse’s recent investigation into verbal, physical and social media abuse at GP practices showed that some have had to change their processes to mitigate the effects of rising abuse.
In the last month alone a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and assault at a GP surgery in York, while a man in Crewe has been charged after GP practice staff were threatened with ‘two large knives’.
Practices can use the form here if they want to keep the panic button.