Christmas lockdown rules must be changed in days or Britain faces a third wave, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been warned.

A top NHS boss said that if infection rates stay as high as they are now then the lockdown break between December 23 and 27 "will trigger a third wave".

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS providers, which represents English NHS trusts, told SkyNews "a much better debate" was needed about the planned relaxation of restrictions.

He added that just being allowed to see elderly relatives didn't mean it was safe to do so.

It emerged this week ministers from the Welsh Government had met to discuss whether to change Christmas rules but decided against it.

In his letter to the PM, Mr Hopson said the decision to ease up might have to be reviewed within days.

He added: "Trust leaders are worried that if infection rates remain as high as they are at the moment, relaxing the restrictions will trigger a third wave."

It emerged this week ministers from Welsh Government had met to discuss whether to change Christmas rules but decided against it.

In his letter to the PM Mr Hopson said the decision to ease up might have to be reviewed within days, reports MirrorOnline.

He added: "Trust leaders are worried that if infection rates remain as high as they are at the moment, relaxing the restrictions will trigger a third wave."

Speaking to Sky News he said NHS trusts were "very worried" about what would happen over Christmas. He added: "Everybody’s currently working on the basis that because the rules are there, if they observe the rules they’ll be fine and that’s absolutely not the case.

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"Any extra social contact particularly with people who are at risk from the virus is potentially a real problem. We’re not calling at this point for the regulations to change, but that’s something I think we’re going to need to look at over the next few days."

Also speaking to Sky News Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the rules wouldn't be reviewed. He said: "It’s been a really tough year all round everyone’s felt it I think people do need that five day window over Christmas to spend a bit of time with their loved ones. I think at a mental health level and an emotional level they do need it."

Mr Hopson also begged Mr Johnson not to downgrade any areas of England into a lower tier just before Christmas when they are reviewed on Wednesday.

He said the NHS has 10,000 fewer beds than last year due to infection control measures – and 13,000 Covid patients are in many of the remaining beds.

A Government spokeswoman said ministers will not "hesitate to take necessary actions to protect local communities".

"We have introduced strengthened local restrictions to protect the progress gained during national restrictions, reduce pressure on the NHS and ultimately save lives," the spokeswoman said.

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