Dr Nagpaul said NHS staff were exhausted and facing an “unprecedented” backlog of patients waiting for care, with more than 200,000 people now waiting more than a year for treatment. 

A number of Tory MPs have raised concerns that the “goalposts” are being moved, with scientists urging ministers to provide more clarity on the triggers that will see lockdown eased. 

When Mr Johnson announced the current lockdown, last month, he said the exit plan would depend on three factors – the fall in deaths, capacity of the NHS and the success of the vaccination programme.

In its exit strategy, the BMA also called for the UK to quarantine any arrivals from abroad rather than just those from “red list” countries.

Dr Nagpaul said it was “extremely odd and confusing” that different nations in the UK have different policies, with Scotland insisting on quarantine for all those arriving from overseas, while England does not.

“As a nation we were clearly an outlier in keeping our borders open, last March and April when other countries clearly understood the risks of the infection spreading, so we need to learn the lessons from that,” he said. “The impact on the nation could be devastating if we see further spread or mutant strains coming in unchecked.”

A Government spokesman said: “As the Prime Minister has said, we want this lockdown to be the last – which is why we will seek to ease restrictions in a way that is cautious, but irreversible.

“We will publish our roadmap on Monday after carefully reviewing the impact of current restrictions and the vaccine programme on infections, hospital admissions and deaths. No decisions have yet been made.”

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