PRESSURE on the NHS is looking set to build into the new year as the country fights Covid-19, council leaders fear.

Hospitals are shutting to visitors and more than 12,000 cases were recorded in south Essex in a week as concerns are rising in the south of the county.

Council bosses fear more important appointments will be cancelled and say those who are not jabbed are adding to the pressure on the health services.

Tony Hedley, Tory deputy leader of Basildon Council, has raised concerns about people without the jabs adding to the pressure on health services.

He said: “It does seem like the hospitalisations of people who are not vaccinated is where the pressure is coming from.

“These people are placing more stress on the services. I don’t understand why people would choose not to have the vaccine.”

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Ian Gilbert, Labour leader of Southend Council said: “The pressure on the NHS could get much worse if the cases keep going up and the staff isolation situation continues.

“I think there is cause for concern and most people are worried about it too. The NHS already has a backlog of people needing treatment and if the situation does not change it will get worse.

“I would encourage everyone who hasn’t already to get a Covid jab as soon as possible and test regularly if you can get them. The issue with the lack of tests needs to be sorted out very soon.”

He said the added pressure to the health and social care services is his biggest worry with the ongoing pandemic.

It comes as Boris Johnson will decide this week whether to impose new coronavirus restrictions to limit indoor socialising as the Prime Minister said in his New Year’s Eve message that there are likely to be ‘challenges’ in the weeks ahead.

Mr Johnson is expected to make a decision in the first week of the New Year on whether to restrict mixing indoors, according to The Times.

The Prime Minister opted not to impose new curbs between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but rising Covid case numbers are fuelling fears that new measures could be on the horizon.