We have all been aware for many years of the winter pressures faced by the NHS.

On December 2, 2012, the Guardian newspaper reported, 'Hospitals, “full to bursting” as bed shortage hits danger level'. On March 27, 2015, the Guardian headline read, 'Hospital bed occupancy hit record high risking care' Pre-pandemic on November 25, 2019 it noted, 'Hospital beds at a record low in England as NHS struggles with demand'.

I could have chosen similar headlines from other years highlighting the crucial issue of bed capacity within the NHS during periods of increased demand but on no other occasion prior to the pandemic have we ever considered a lockdown or the imposition of draconian restrictions upon our fellow citizens.

Those advising the Government to impose further restrictions are warning the NHS may be overwhelmed due to the Omicron strain of Covid 19. But the evidence we have at present does not seem to support this view. The Prime Minister has been informed the Omicron hospital risk is two-thirds lower than the previously dominant Delta variant and symptoms appear to be milder. There are far fewer people in hospital with Covid-19 this Christmas despite cases being three times higher, with 7,536 patients in hospital on December 26 compared to 18,350 in 2020.

We can also thank our brilliant vaccine roll-out for supporting this encouraging data. Indeed, following the PM's call for all those eligible to get a booster, by December 17, 50 per cent of UK adults had received a Covid-19 booster jab with the number now significantly increased on that figure.

The booster has been shown to offer strong levels of protection and I would urge everyone to get vaccinated. It is sobering to note, in a briefing given to Conservative MPs by the Health Secretary in the week before Parliamentary recess, it was stated 90 per cent of those with Covid 19 in ICU beds within the previous seven days throughout England were unvaccinated.

We are also seeing positive signs from the rollout of the Astra Zeneca vaccine at the start of the pandemic to vulnerable people. Clive Dix, former chief of the country’s vaccine taskforce has said the durable cellular immunity response produced by the AZ jab can potentially “last for life” and may be the reason we seeing a lower death toll in the UK compared to Europe.

In my view, this information justifies the Prime Minister’s decision to impose no further restrictions at this time and gives us all grounds for optimism as we go into the New Year.