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GP practices have to sign liability agreement to keep ‘panic button’ beyond September

GP practices have to sign liability agreement to keep ‘panic button’ beyond September

GP practices that wish to keep the EMIS ‘panic button’ must request this and sign an agreement accepting its ‘limitations’.

EMIS has confirmed that GP practices must complete request forms by 15 September this year to avoid their panic button being removed at the end of the month.

Earlier this year, the supplier 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.

However, last month EMIS said the feature would remain available for those who wish to keep it after GPs raised concerns amid increasing levels of abuse. 

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 logged-on PCs, which can be useful in situations where a staff member is experiencing verbal or physical abuse from a patient.

The removal was originally planned for June, but now EMIS has confirmed that, ‘in agreement with NHS England’, the intention is to remove the panic button on 29 September. 

EMIS said: ‘Organisations can request that the Panic button remains available for their organisation beyond Friday 29th September 2023. 

‘As part of this request, organisations will be required to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the known risks and limitations associated with the functionality.’

In March, a spokesperson for the company had said ‘the underlying third-party technology that supports the solution is no longer reliable’ which meant they could not guarantee its functionality. 

At the time, GPs told Pulse they feared that removing the button could jeopardise their safety, with one GP saying this comes at a time when patient aggression is the highest she has ever seen. 

Pulse’s latest investigation looked at the impact of verbal, physical and social media abuse on GP practices, showing that some have had to change their processes to manage rising abuse. 

To apply to keep the panic button, GP practices must fill in a form which is available online now.