A Wetherpoon just 500 metres from Lewisham Hospital has been slammed for displaying “undermining” anti-lockdown posters which claim wards are less busy than they were last year.

Greg Matthews, 47, spotted the flyers in the window of The London and Rye, Catford, which reprint a news story from November, playing down pressure on the NHS prior to the mutant strain and second wave.

In the time since a ‘major incident’ was declared by the Mayor, as London hospitals struggle to deal patient numbers higher than at the April peak, with deaths now above 80,000 and the country in a third national lockdown.

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Mr Matthews, whose wife is a doctor at St George’s in Tooting, said: “Seeing the posters made me feel frustrated and disappointed. I think I did a double take when I first saw them!

“The point is, when Wetherspoons speak, people listen and their messages undermining the lockdown could have disastrous consequences given how full our hospitals are.

“Wetherspoons need to realise that if they decide to put out these kinds of messages in the community, then with that comes the responsibility to make sure they are in the public good, factually correct and up to date.”

Wetherspoons owner Tim Martin has repeatedly argued that pubs should stay open during the pandemic, accusing the Government of "relying on false information".

The posters reprint an article from November by freelance journalist Ross Clark which claimed that hospital admissions were down compared to this time last year and that “95% of fatalities had underlying causes.”

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned on Monday that the NHS is under "very significant pressure" and told the public to reduce all social contact that is "not absolutely strictly necessary" in a bid to cut cases.

His warning came as NHS England data showed there were 32,070 Covid-19 patients in English hospitals as of 8am on Monday. The figure is up 20% compared with last week, and up 81% since Christmas Day.

Wetherspoon initially backed the posters in spite of the criticism and claimed the company is “inclined towards the Swedish approach in dealing with the virus.”

Sweden avoided lockdown measures, favouring public health guidance, in dealing with the virus until this week, when it u-turned on its approach in the face of mounting death figures.  

Wetherspoon has since decided to remove the posters “in the coming days.”

A spokesperson said: ““The heading for the posters is ‘Read all about it’, which refers to the online edition of Wetherspoon News.

“The online edition has articles by most leading newspapers including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, New Statesman, Daily Telegraph and The Independent.

“Having said that the posters have been up for six weeks and it is fair to say that a few of the comments are out of date.

“We intend to take the posters down from all Wetherspoon pubs in the next few days.

“It is vital in a democracy to have an informed debate."