Plans to replace two community hospitals and two care homes with ‘extra-care’ housing have been put on hold during the coronavirus crisis amid claims new approaches may be needed.

Health chiefs responded to concerns that plans to introduce a new approach to care were being pushed through during lockdown by insisting no decisions had been made.

And they said that in the wake of the crisis, which has seen care homes hit particularly hard, a new approach may be needed as they move forward.

A meeting of East Lothian Integration Joint Board(IJB), which oversees health and social care services, heard that one of the local focus groups set up to discuss the changes to care provision had raised concerns about the lack of information available during lockdown.

However Councillor Fiona O'Donnell, IJB chairperson, reassured local groups no decisions were being made.

And she said a new approach might be needed following the coronavirus crisis.

Health chiefs approved plans at the end of 2018 to replace Belhaven and Edington Hospitals, in Dunbar and North Berwick respectively, and The Abbey (North Berwick) and Eskgreen (Musselburgh) care homes with extra-care housing “or the equivalent alternatives” under plans to bring their ageing facilities into the 21st century.

The IJB put its plans out to public consultation and had been engaging with local focus groups prior to lockdown.

However questions were raised at a virtual meeting of the IJB about whether plans were progressing without information being passed on during the crisis.

Councillor O'Donnell moved to reassure people that no plans had been progressed insisting the crisis had taken the full focus of health services.

But she added that all plans would have to be re-evaluated as the country comes out of  lockdown.

She said: "We live in a different world and we don't know what impact Covid-19 will have on plans.

"It is so important we do not rush to decisions in the new normal and make sure we get this right.

"There may be new national guidelines for care homes and services to consider, we need to understand the impact of Covid-19."