Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement announcing further restrictions, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
"Our members knew that this national lockdown was inevitable and necessary with the infection rate rising so rapidly, along with hospital admissions and deaths.
“While the roll-out of the vaccine offers hope longer term, we simply have to reduce transmission and infections now. Our members will support tougher measures which can help the country to get a grip on the virus and to reduce the harm being done to our communities and patients.
“Hospitals, ambulance services, community services, primary care and social care teams are all working together and doing everything they can, at what is traditionally already the toughest time of the year for both the NHS and social care.
“Protecting the NHS means protecting our friends, family and loved ones from harm. This includes allowing the broader range of NHS services to carry on wherever possible, or where there is particularly intense Covid pressures, to be resumed as quickly as possible.
"With huge pressure being placed on the NHS across the country in this last fortnight, and with the NHS’s capacity being confirmed as being at risk of becoming overwhelmed within the next 21 days, there was no option other than to take these drastic steps. The public must help the NHS by following the requirements of social distancing to the letter: the virus is not under control and the standards upon which the NHS prides itself are already being weakened and compromised.
“The Government must only relax these restrictions when it is absolutely safe to do so.”