Despite challenges, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) remains a pacesetter in providing a population with high-quality health-care. For less developed and much poorer South Africa, achieving this dream is more difficult, as the furore surrounding the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) plan demonstrates.

Much of the controversy relates to the fact that providing quality health-care to the whole population is unaffordable at present. But perhaps there is a lesson we can learn from the venerable NHS when it comes to how one important component of medical care, surgery, is  delivered...

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