We are very pleased to announce the winners of the annual Royal College of Surgeons/Rosetrees essay prize 2021. The winning essays were selected from 24 outstanding applications in answer to the question: ‘Describe how your research project will contribute to improvements in patient care within the next five years’. The well-deserved winner, James Glasbey (University of Birmingham) won with his essay entitled ‘Reducing infection and mortality after surgery around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond’. James’ work is investigating how making important changes surrounding surgery care with regards to COVID-19 has the potential to save thousands of lives across the world. The calibre of this year’s applications was very high and we would also like to congratulate the runners-up of this prize; James Fletcher for his essay ‘Optimising screw fixation for surgeons to improve patient care’ and ‘Panagiota Birmpili’ for her essay ‘Improving outcomes for patients with Chronic Limb-Threatening Ischaemia.’