Wales’ health secretary apologised to victims of the contaminated blood scandal, describing it as the greatest treatment scandal in the history of the health service.

Leading a Senedd debate on the infected blood inquiry, Eluned Morgan said the Welsh Government has started work to consider Sir Brian Langstaff’s recommendations.

More than 30,000 people in the UK were infected with HIV or hepatitis C by contaminated blood between 1970 and 1991, with more than 3,000 people dying as a result.

She said: “We must do better than the denials, the false reassurances, the complacency, the cover-ups, the obfuscations and the repeated failures at an individual, institutional and government level that characterised and compounded this awful tragedy.”

Although the scandal predates devolution by decades, Baroness Morgan apologised to all those who were infected with tainted blood or have been affected by the disaster.

Mabon ap Gwynfor said the report was an “utterly damning indictment of an entrenched culture of institutional abuse, governmental neglect and political obfuscation”.

Plaid Cymru’s shadow health secretary hoped the report would prove a watershed moment in addressing an imbalance of power at the heart of the criminal justice system.

He said: “From the Hillsborough disaster to the Post Office Horizon scandal, the wheels of justice can often turn far too slowly when it comes to the misdemeanours of the wealthy.”

Acknowledging concerns about unrecognised cases, Baroness Morgan said part of the issue is problems with NHS records that are required to make compensation claims.

She said the Welsh Government has established a new infected blood inquiry group, chaired by Push Mangat, the new deputy chief medical officer, to consider next steps.

“It will work with health boards, the Welsh Blood Service, Public Health Wales and policy officials to ensure we look at the wrongs of the past and work together to ensure this can never happen again,” she said.

“I think we unite as a chamber and as a parliament, and I'm sure you'll join with me to pay tribute to those who have suffered as a result of this – the greatest scandal in the history of the NHS.”