The government has been told by scientists that every hospital bed in England will be full by 17 December, unless Boris Johnson imposes further restrictions immediately.
A source has said that due to social distancing in hospitals there are fewer beds, which may well lead to people being turned away from having treatment.
It is also believed that this does include the Nightingale hospitals.
A source said, “Ministers have been told in clear terms that if no further action is taken, at the present rate of rising infections, every hospital bed in England will be full by 17 December.
“They would have no choice but to turn people away, including additional Covid patients, people who have heart attacks, cancer, road accident victims – because there would be no beds to put them in or staff to treat them.
“There could be a repeat here of the scenes in Lombardy in Italy at the start of the pandemic: the sick put in operating rooms or corridors.
“Hospital admissions are forecast to go up slowly for the next few weeks but shoot up towards Christmas.
“People don’t realise that social distancing measures can mean only ten beds in a ward meant to take 20.
“And there is a finite number of trained ICU [intensive care unit] staff – you cannot do it without special training.”
A Downing Street source said that the government was advised of there being no hospital beds available by December, but the source would not provide the exact date.
Beds are already running out in Liverpool and Greater Manchester which are now under the tier 3 lockdown.
A senior Tory said, “The Prime Minister is in an impossible position. He cannot let the economy collapse but a collapse in the NHS could be worse in the short-term.
“Having said his priority is to protect the NHS, he cannot risk hospitals being overrun. It would be disastrous at any time but much worse at Christmas.
“The risk of a permanent scar to his political and personal reputation is too great. Covid may have sealed Trump’s fate; no Conservative wants that to happen to the PM.”