IT system supplier EMIS will keep its ‘panic button’ feature, after GPs raised concerns amid increasing levels of abuse.
Earlier this year, the supplier had said it had been made aware that certain local network configurations ‘prevent the panic button functionality from operating as designed’ and that following an internal investigation and ‘in-depth technology review,’ a decision was made to remove it for all customers from next month.
Now the BMA said that after lobbying by the union, EMIS announced the feature ‘will continue to be available for GP practices that wish to keep it.’
The button is currently displayed in the top right-hand corner of every EMIS Web screen and staff can use it to send an alert to all other PCs that are logged on to EMIS Web.
The feature is also used to alert other members of staff that assistance is required in aggressive situations, including if they feel threatened verbally or physically.
Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of GPC England at the BMA, said: ‘A lot of practices use EMIS and have relied on the panic button, a built-in part of the system, during security alerts and clinical emergencies.
‘Potentially taking something that is a means of a call for help away, makes many practices extremely vulnerable.
‘The number one priority for any doctor is ensuring patient safety, which is why such changes to the EMIS system have an impact. We have a duty of care to voice our concerns when there is a risk, and are pleased to see they have been taken seriously.’
He said that some practices face technical challenges with the system and do not use the feature, adding: ‘This is only a sign that the NHS IT infrastructure across this country is seriously inadequate. We need to see actual investment in practices to not only help them stay open, but ensure that they are as safe a space as possible.’