A PRIVATE maternity hospital is to reopen as a step-down facility for patients who are in the process of moving from hospital to home.
The HSE has bought Mount Carmel Hospital in Rathgar, south Dublin, for an estimated €11m.
A spokesperson confirmed it will be used as a "step-down" facility for patients who are taking up mainstream hospital beds. They are mostly elderly people not in need of standard hospital care, but who can't be moved because they are waiting for a bed in a nursing home.
The purchase has also raised fresh hopes that some former staff of the well-known maternity hospital, who were made redundant last January, might now be rehired.
Mount Carmel closed with the loss of 330 jobs and debts of around €39m.
A HSE spokeswoman refused to say how much was paid in the deal - but confirmed the facility is to reopen next year.
Developer Jerry Conlan bought the hospital in 2006 from the Little Sisters of Mercy. However, its finances suffered badly in the downturn and it was seriously hit by a drop in the numbers covered by private health insurance.
This meant the number of couples capable of paying for private maternity care sharply declined.