SNP ministers have been told to do more to halt the NHS backlog “spiralling out of control” ahead of a health service recovery plan being drawn up.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf will bring forward his Government’s blueprint to help the NHS recover from the pandemic within 100 days.

The plan will cover physical and mental health and set out the first steps in setting up a National Care Service.

But the SNP has been warned that without bolder action, Scotland could be facing a “full-blown healthcare crisis”.

READ MORE: Scotland's mental health services 'in crisis' as waiting times soar

Mr Yousaf acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a “significant challenge” for the NHS.

He added: “Our NHS recovery plan will include action on improving mental health and wellbeing services. We will increase direct investment in mental health by 25% over the course of the parliament.”

The Health Secretary also set out his Government’s plans to begin setting up a national Care Service, which he said would place social care “on the same level of esteem as our National health Service”.

Mr Yousaf added: “This will be the most significant public reform since the creation of the NHS in 1948 and will be operational within the five-year lifetime of this parliament.

“In our first 100 days, we will begin the consultation on the necessary legislation with a view to introducing it in the first year of this parliament.”

He also confirmed that a women’s health plan will also be brought forward within 100 days “in order to better shape the services that are needed by women of all ages but that have too often fallen short in the past”.

But the Scottish Conservatives have warned that without more ambition, waiting times and backlogs will not improve quickly enough.

HeraldScotland: Scottish Conservative health spokesperson Annie WellsScottish Conservative health spokesperson Annie Wells

The party’s health spokesperson, Annie Wells, said: “The NHS backlog is at great risk of spiralling out of control.

“If urgent action is not taken, we could be heading for a full-blown healthcare crisis.”

Ms Wells also pointed to around 28,000 patients who have spent more than a year awaiting NHS treatment, adding that “around 100,000 Scots are still waiting on key diagnostic tests”.

She called on the Scottish Government to prioritise “boosting the diagnostic workforce”, which she claimed was “key to tackling the hidden backlog of those who are yet to be referred due to the pandemic”.

Ms Wells added: “Tackling the NHS backlog must be a top priority for this new parliament going forward.

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“We cannot spend the next five years stuck in the same debates and disagreements that held back the last parliament.

“Although I welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to an NHS recovery plan, I believe we could go further in certain areas.”

Scottish Labour health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, warned that “thousands are living with undiagnosed conditions, some may have indeed died”.

HeraldScotland: Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie BaillieScottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie

She added: “The NHS has been underfunded for years, demand is increasing and we don’t have the staff to cope. We are facing a perfect storm.

"We all agree that we need to remobilise the NHS and catch up on the backlog quickly – but we cannot begin to do that unless we take care of the staff. They are the backbone of the NHS and without them, we have nothing.

“This Scottish Government have not been good at workforce planning. It was Nicola Sturgeon as health minister that cut the training places for doctors and nurses that led to the crisis we face now.

“We need to immediately increase the number of training places for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals – but we need to do more than that to retain staff now.”