NHS What if

A collection of essays exploring hypothetical scenarios for the future of health and care.
Find out more

essay competition

We’re holding an essay competition to stimulate new thinking and writing about the future of the NHS.

. . .

We'd like to invite you to write your own essay exploring a future scenario for the NHS,
considering the potential impact on the health system and wider society.



An expert panel of judges will select the winning essay, which will be published on The King’s Fund’s The NHS if… website. The top prize is £500, plus a free place at a The King’s Fund conference of your choice in 2017. There will be one runner-up, who will receive a free conference place and publication of their essay on The NHS if… website.

The essay competition is open to anyone with an interest in the future of health and care in England. You might work in health and care, or be a student of health policy and management, science communication or wider social and political issues. Or you may be a patient or carer who can use your own experience to help explore a future scenario for the NHS.

Essay title

The title of your essay is up to you – we don't want to curb your imagination and hope to be inspired by essays on a range of topics from people with a range of perspectives. We just ask that your essay considers the NHS in England, and that it fits under one of the three themes of The NHS if… series: The NHS and society; Medicine, data and technology; and How the NHS works.

Please read The NHS if… essays we've published so far, and check that your essay would fit as part of this series in terms of scope and breadth.

If you'd like some inspiration about potential topics, please see some ideas below (contributed by staff at The King’s Fund) or check out suggestions from followers of @thekingsfund.

  • What if the NHS was free of politics?
  • What if the gap between the health of rich and poor people in England grew even wider?
  • What if the NHS charged for treating conditions people could avoid by changing their behaviour?
  • What if robots replaced doctors?

Closing date

9am on Tuesday
3 January 2017

More about your essay. . .

Your essay should be between 900 and 1,200 words long. Please submit your essay as a Word document to website@kingsfund.org.uk. Please include your name, job title and organisation (if applicable), email address, home address and telephone number at the bottom of your essay.

The judges

Chris Ham

Chris Ham

Chief Executive, The King’s Fund

Chris leads the Fund’s work and researches and writes on all aspects of health reform.

Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens

Chief Executive, NHS England

Simon heads NHS England, the organisation that leads the NHS’s work to improve health and ensure high-quality care.

Fiona Godlee

Fiona Godlee

Editor in Chief, The BMJ

Fiona has been The BMJ's editor in chief since 2005 and is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

Nicholas Timmins

Nicholas Timmins

Senior Fellow, The King’s Fund

Nicholas works part-time at the Fund on a range of policy projects and is a former public policy commentator at the Financial Times.

Katie Mantell

Katie Mantell

Deputy Director of Communications and Information, The King’s Fund

Katie is responsible for the Fund’s website, digital communications and published content.

Ceinwen Giles

Ceinwen Giles

Director, Shine Cancer Support

Ceinwen is a patient advocate and a trustee of The Point of Care Foundation

Judging criteria

Judges will use the following criteria:

Originality of scenario – we are looking for new and original thinking about potential futures for health and care in England. The scenario you explore will need to be within the bounds of possibility, but judges will reward creativity and imagination in how you approach and think through the implications of your chosen scenario.

Quality of argument – judges will consider the extent to which the essay follows through to the logical conclusion of a scenario, and how fully it considers the implications of your scenario for the health system and wider society. Judges will be looking for a balanced article that where possible considers both the positives and negatives of any scenario.

Quality of writing – we are looking for a well-structured, clearly articulated essay. Your essay needs to avoid jargon and should deal with complex and nuanced issues in a way that is accessible to a non-expert reader. Take a look at The NHS if… essays published so far. Your essay needs to fit in as a part of this series and be written using a similar style and tone.

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions

The competition is administered and promoted by:
The King’s Fund, 11-13 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0AN. Charity number 1126980

  1. The competition is open to anyone aged 16 years or over on 3 January 2017.
  2. The competition closes at 9am on Tuesday 3 January 2017. The winner and runner-up will be announced by 28 February 2017.
  3. One entry per person. Bulk and/or third party entries will be void.
  4. To enter this competition, please write an essay on a future scenario for the health and care sector based on the premise ‘What if…’ either based on an idea suggested above or any other topic you feel is relevant and in keeping with the series. Submit your essay as a Word document attachment in an email to website@kingsfund.org.uk. The Word document must contain your essay, name, job title and organisation (if applicable), home address, email address and telephone number. Your submitted essay must be at least 900 words long but no longer than 1,200 words. Entries must be typed in English only. We will acknowledge receipt of your entry by email but no further correspondence will be entered into.
  5. Entries must be the original work of the entrant and not previously published anywhere else. Entries must not contain anything defamatory, obscene, illegal or otherwise inappropriate as may be deemed by The King’s Fund.
  6. Entrants reserve all rights to their entries, but taking part in the competition implies accepting that The King's Fund retains unlimited rights to edit, reproduce and use your entry without further compensation.
  7. Essays will be anonymised before being shared with the judges. This means that the personal details you supply (name, job title and organisation, home address, email address and telephone number) will not be disclosed as part of the judging process and that judges will not know who submitted the essay they are judging.
  8. The judges’ decision is final and not subject to appeal. No correspondence will be entered into. There is no cash alternative. The prize is not transferable and no part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions.
  9. There will be one winner and one runner-up. However, there is no guarantee that the winner’s or the runner-up's essay will be published on The King’s Fund website.
  10. The winner will be awarded:
    1. a £500 cash prize
    2. a free place at conference of their choice run by The King’s Fund in 2017 up to the value of £600 (please note, the prize does not include the cost of transport to the event or any overnight accommodation)
    3. their essay may be published on The King’s Fund website.
  11. The runner-up will be awarded:
    1. a free place at a conference of their choice run by The King’s Fund in 2017 up to the value of £600 (please note, the prize does not include the cost of transport to the event or any overnight accommodation)
    2. their essay may be published on The King’s Fund website.
  12. Winning entrants agree to participate in reasonable publicity relating to this competition, including but not limited to having their name published with their entry.
  13. The King’s Fund reserves the right to present no prizes or commendations or to reduce the number of prizes and commendations if an insufficient number of deserving essays is received.
  14. The King’s Fund reserves the right to modify the format and content of essays for publication purposes.
  15. The King’s Fund reserves the right, at its sole and absolute discretion, to use names and information about participants without obtaining further consent from the participant or providing any payment whatsoever to the participant for any commercial or non-commercial endeavours, publicity, advertising, trade or promotion in perpetuity.
  16. By entering, the entrants, including the winner, agree to allow the free use of their names, photographs and general locations for publicity and news purposes during this competition.
  17. Uses of personal data received by The King’s Fund in the course of the competition are subject to current UK data protection legislation. The winner’s name may be published on the website.
  18. Any form of plagiarism will result in automatic disqualification. It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure that their essay does not infringe the copyright of any third party or any other laws.
  19. The King’s Fund will not be responsible or liable for any problem, loss or damage of whatsoever nature suffered by any party due to any delay and/or failure in submitting entries to the competition.
  20. The King’s Fund will not be responsible or liable for any costs, problems, damage or loss of whatsoever nature to the participants resulting from their participation in the competition.
  21. The King’s Fund reserves the right at any time to cancel, modify or supersede the competition (including altering the prize) if, in its sole discretion, the competition is not capable of being conducted as specified.
  22. The competition is not open to employees of The King's Fund or their families or anyone else professionally associated with this competition.
  23. Entry to the competition is deemed an acceptance of these terms and conditions.

Stay informed

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About

‘The NHS if’ is a collection of essays published by The King’s Fund that explores hypothetical scenarios and their impact on the future of health and care.

We are asking a small number of experts – some of them members of staff at The King’s Fund and others external experts in their fields – to write short essays that consider ‘what if’ questions about health and care in England. We’ll be publishing these essays on this website throughout 2016.

Our aim is to encourage new thinking and debate about possible future scenarios that could fundamentally change health and care. The essays cover three themes: the NHS and society; medicine, data and technology; and how the NHS works.

In each essay, the author gives their informed but personal view of a possible future. We invite you to let us know what you think and join the debate by adding your comments below the essays or by tweeting using the hashtag #NHSif.

If you’d like us to email you each time a new essay is published, please sign up for email alerts.