Election 2010: Do you know your health policies?

King's Fund election gamePrime minister Gordon Brown has finally announced the UK general election, which will take place on 6 May 2010. The main political parties have all since gone into overdrive promoting their policies on the campaign trail, trying to guarantee votes for what looks set to be a very uncertain election.

As well as pushing plans on the economy, immigration, the environment and such like, the parties are also making promises regarding health and the NHS. But do you know one party’s policy from the other?

Independent health think-tank the King’s Fund has launched a fun interactive “election check-up” game to test your knowledge of where the three main parties stand on health policy.

Rebecca Gray, director of communications at The King’s Fund, said: “We wanted to inject some fun into our election activities while at the same time promote the more heavy-weight work we do in shaping health and social care policy.

“When we came up with the concept we knew the game would need to be fun and witty, but not too frivolous and definitely hold some informative value. The aim is to hook people into the issues and prompt them to visit The King’s Fund’s site to access our more in-depth resources.”

With dancing, yabbering “bobble head” figures of the leaders of the three main parties, the quiz is certainly entertaining. The quiz also includes plenty of facts I didn’t know.  For example, according to a MORI political poll, health is the second most important issue to voters, coming after managing the economy but topping education, unemployment, and immigration.

Shockingly I did quite badly – only four out of seven.  Even more outrageously, I didn’t recognize Andy Burnham‘s sultry gaze, but did spot Andrew Lansley‘s steely glare.

How did you get on with the quiz?  Are you already fully informed on the Labour, Tory, and Lib Dem health policies?  Or, like me, do you need to do some serious swotting before 6 May?

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NHS hospital choice advert banned

The Advertising Standards Agency has banned an NHS advertising campaign that promotes patient choice on the grounds that the adverts are “misleading”.

The adverts – part of the Good News You Choose campaign conducted by NHS North East – tell patients that they can choose which hospital and at what time they have their treatment.

However, the ASA has upheld a complaint filed by a GP that these claims could not be substantiated – because the NHS could not prove that most patients would be able to exercise their choice in practice they could not make the claims.

A spokesman for the ASA told the BBC, “We considered the ad suggested patients could always choose the date, time and place of their appointment for non-emergency, planned referral but, because NHS North East had not provided evidence that showed that was the case, we considered the ad could mislead readers.”

According to NHS North East, the purpose of the advert was to convey the message that the choice of hospital rested with patients rather than with GPs, as has traditionally been the case, not state how an appointment could be booked or confirmed.

On April 1 this year, government rules changed so that patients referred to see a specialist can choose where they will be treated, including at a private hospital.  The new legislation aims to give people more flexibility so that they can fit hospital appointments around their work, family or other commitments.

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