Original Research

Mistrust in government and National Health Insurance: A qualitative study of solo private practitioners in Cape Town

Bridget L. Perrow, Helen Schneider
South African Family Practice | Vol 65, No 1 : Part 4| a5768 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v65i1.5768 | © 2023 Bridget L. Perrow, Helen Schneider | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 May 2023 | Published: 15 December 2023

About the author(s)

Bridget L. Perrow, School of Public Health, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Helen Schneider, School of Public Health, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa; and, SAMRC Health Services to Systems Research Unit, University of the Western Cape, South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: The participation of independent private general practitioners (GPs) is of fundamental importance to the successful implementation of key elements of the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) reform, notably the contracting units for primary health care (CUPS). This study explored knowledge and perceptions of the NHI reforms of private GPs following the tabling of the NHI Bill in parliament in 2019.

Methods: An explorative qualitative research methodology was adopted. Using a semi-structured guide, nine solo private GPs, purposefully selected to represent the range of practices in the southern peninsula of Cape Town were interviewed in depth by B.L.P. over the period from January 2021 to March 2022.

Results: The GPs indicated support for the values of greater equity outlined in the NHI proposals. However, they had little engagement on or knowledge of their potential future roles in NHI. Concerns over financial viability and design were underpinned by an overall mistrust in the public sector to implement and manage NHI.

Conclusion: The study concurs with previous research that private GPs are broadly in support of the principles of, and are potential allies, in advancing NHI. General practitioners need a platform to share their concerns and contribute as co-designers of NHI reforms. In the interim, steps to increase collaboration between private and public sectors at local and provincial level through, for example, referral processes may help to build the trust that is necessary between the sectors.

Contribution: This study foregrounds the role of trust relationships in advancing NHI.


independent private general practitioner; National Health Insurance (NHI); Universal Health Coverage (UHC); Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality; primary health care (PHC); public and private sector collaboration; stakeholder engagement; equitable healthca


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