A porter at a Black Country hospital, one of two suspended after claims a dead baby was left in a basement, was involved in a similar incident three years ago.

He is one of two workers at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton that are now subject to an investigation after a new-born baby's body was abandoned instead of being taken to the mortuary.

The incident, which happened on Saturday, is not the first within the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust which runs New Cross.

The porter had previously been disciplined for not following procedures in relation to a dead baby in 2002.

In the latest case, it is thought a baby - who died in the maternity unit at the weekend - had been left in a cardboard body box by the workers.

David Loughton, the trust's chief executive, said breaches of procedures were taken "ex-tremely seriously" and an investigation was under way.

As a result of this blunder, porters taking a dead patient from the maternity unit to the mortuary will be escorted by a midwife until the hospital's inquiry is completed.

Mr Loughton said: "One of the two porters suspended was involved in a similar incident in 2002.

"That incident was fully investigated and the member of staff concerned was dealt with under trust policies, with an appropriate level of disciplinary action taken.

"Our investigation is set to conclude next week after which we will decide what action should be taken."

He added: "Certainly we will have to look at what procedures were or were not followed in 2002 and what, if any, changes were to hospital protocol at that time.

"I have contacted the family involved to express our sympathy for their loss and our regret about the incident that we are now investigating.

"They had nothing but praise for the level of care they received in the maternity unit, and I must stress this incident has no connection with their quality of care."

Standards of care at the maternity unit came under fire last year when the Healthcare Commission found problems with working practices and staffing levels.

The report followed four serious incidents, including the deaths of three babies. Its findings condemned consistent staff shortages and accused managers of focusing too much on meeting performance targets.