The NHS has placed itself in emergency footing to deal with a potential surge in Covid-19 patients as ministers warn that extra restrictions may be needed. 

Chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson has said that trust leaders recognise that the UK Government's threshold introduction of extra measures in England "hasn't been crossed yet" but the additional capacity has been created if hospital pressures increase

The news comes as the number of coronavirus patients across UK hospitals has increased by more than 40% in one week, making it the highest number since March 2, according to Government data from December 29. 

In England alone, hospital patients numbers have climbed to their highest level since February.

Chairman of the council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul at the British Medical Association said there is concern over a "significant increase" of people in hospital with Covid. 

"While the proportion of people who end up in hospital as a result of Omicron is smaller, we are definitely seeing significant increases," Nagpaul said to Sky News.

Parts of the UK have already announced new restrictions as Scotland and Wales close nightclubs and restrictions placed on hospitality. 

However, England ministers have decided to forgo measures beyond the UK Government's Plan B, which included mask-wearing, work from home guidance and Covid passes for large events. 

Mr Hopson added that even if more restrictions are placed to control the Omicron variant, it will take two weeks for hospital admissions to reduce. 

Telling BBC Radio 4 Today program: "It is the Government who sets the rules on restrictions, not the NHS, and we know that the Government has set a high threshold on introducing new restrictions.

"So, on that basis, trust leaders can see why the Government is arguing that, in the absence of a surge of seriously ill older patients coming into hospital, that threshold hasn’t yet been crossed."

Although Hopson did say that they still are not sure if a surge will come but are making preparations for the potential increase.