Humza Yousaf’s plan to spend an extra £300million tackling the NHS backlog crisis could be to the “detriment” of other services, the economy secretary has confirmed.

Neil Gray also said the money had yet to be identified in the Holyrood budget.

The First Minister is due to announce the plan, which is intended to reduce waiting lists by 100,000 by 2026, in his closing speech at the SNP conference this afternoon.

He will also put the economy at the heart of the party’s independence campaign, saying Scotland could raise living standards and build a stronger economy outside the Union.

With more than 820,000 Scots on an NHS waiting list at the end of June, the former health secretary will announce £100m extra for each of the next three years to bring the total down.

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The money will be focused on treating more day cases and inpatients. 

“This additional funding will enable us to maximise capacity, build greater resilience in the system and deliver year-on-year reductions in the number of patients who have waited too long for treatment,” the SNP leader will say.

Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary Shona Robison is due to publish the draft budget for 2024/25 on December 19.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland today, Mr Gray, the Wellbeing Economy Secretary, said the funding for the pledge had yet to be identified, with talks across Government required.

He said: “We’re putting the resource in that we can from within the fixed budget that we have available.

“I think that’s an important commitment. It’s going to be one of many within the First Minister’s speech this afternoon as he sets out his vision for the country now and going forward into independence.”

Asked if Mr Yousaf would explain where the money was coming from, Mr Gray said: “Obviously, we have to find it within a fixed budget, and there will have to be discussions across Government as to where that comes from.

“We don’t have the same luxury of an ordinary government to be able to borrow in order to invest in public services.”

Asked if it might be “to the detriment of another budget”, Mr Gray said: “Well, obviously, and we have to be fully transparent about that in the way that we publish our Budget Bills when they come forward.

“I’m sure the Deputy First Minister, Shona Robison, will set that out when the Budget comes forward in December.”

Mr Gray also rejected assertions that Nicola Sturgeon overshadowed her successor when she appeared at the conference on Monday.

Given rapturous applause both inside and outside the conference hall, the former FM  told a media scrum she fully backs the independence strategy voted on by members on Sunday.

READ MORE: Yousaf to announce £300m fund to tackle Scotland's waiting list crisis

Calling her “one of the foremost politicians in Europe for her generation”, Mr Gray said: “Nicola is a party member like any other delegate, like me, like my branch members, so she’s entitled to come along – I think it was very welcome that she came along.” 

Eileen McKenna, Associate Director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland said: “To cut NHS waiting lists, the First Minister must first cut the number of nursing vacancies across Scotland’s health and care services. 

“Too many experienced nursing staff are leaving, worn down by the years of understaffing and underinvestment. And too few are choosing to study our safety critical profession.

“The Scottish government must deliver on its commitments to reform the Agenda for Change pay system and to ensure the Nursing and Midwifery Taskforce delivers a robust and funded action plan to support retention, increase the numbers studying nursing and improve the workplace culture and wellbeing of health and care staff.”

Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said: “Humza Yousaf  has some brass neck in talking up his extra funding for Scotland’s NHS. It is the failures of his flimsy recovery plan – produced over two years ago – that means one in seven Scots are languishing on an NHS waiting list.”