A spokesperson for the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork city confirmed the closure but said it was not related to the MRSA superbug.
A hospital statement said: “The nursery at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital, which offered mothers the facility of leaving their babies in supervised care overnight, is no longer in operation.
“This measure has been taken by management at the hospital to minimise the risk of infection to babies. Newborn babies at the Bon Secours now remain at their mother’s bedside.”
A hospital spokeswoman said the decision was “part of an ongoing review of infection control measures at the hospital and was not in any way connected to an outbreak of MRSA in the hospital last January”.
She said the hospital had a policy of ongoing infection control and an infection control committee met monthly. It was on foot of one of these monthly reviews that the decision to close the nursery was taken in August.
The source of the January outbreak of MRSA was identified as a maternity patient admitted to the hospital with the superbug.
A statement at the time said intensive infection control measures were implemented and the outbreak was successfully controlled.
A small number of babies tested positive and parents and GPs were immediately informed. No baby developed serious infection as a result of the outbreak.
It also said the hospital recognised the risks associated with MRSA, particularly in light of its increasing prevalence in the community, and had implemented additional infection control measures to reduce any likelihood of recurrence.
This week’s statement from the Bons said its neo-natal unit remains fully operational.
The Bon Secours, as a private hospital, was not included in a recent national hygiene audit of acute hospitals, which found 91% of hospitals audited fell below acceptable standards.
However, a Health Service Executive (HSE) spokesperson said every hospital would have to meet the same high standards (which are being drawn up on foot of the audit), or the HSE would not be contracting services from them.
On average 1,800 babies are born each year at the Bons. The number of cots in the nursery varies, but on average it is between 10 and 15.