The First Minister has defended the health service and his former health secretary Nicola Sturgeon after the SNP was accused of misleading patients over hospital waiting times.
Labour leader Johann Lamont mounted an attack on Ms Sturgeon after public spending watchdogs published a new report into how patient waiting times targets are approached by health boards in the wake of problems at NHS Lothian.
Labour said that showed almost one in four people had to wait more than nine weeks for an inpatient appointment, compared with the 3% the Scottish Government had said.
Ms Lamont blasted Ms Sturgeon, who was health secretary until a reshuffle last year.
"Someone should tell Nicola Sturgeon false statistics and public deceptions don't cure patients and they don't win referendums either," the Labour leader said
"It has been said that in politics there are two types of health ministers - failures and those who get out in time.
"Isn't the truth, laid bare today, that despite the spin, Nicola Sturgeon didn't get out in time?"
Alex Salmond hit back, claiming his rival's attack "wasn't about the health service, it's all about get Nicola Sturgeon from the Labour Party".
In heated exchanges at Holyrood, the First Minister said the NHS "isn't without failings, isn't without faults, but is an outstanding health service of which every one of us should be proud". But he said Labour's attitude to it was "not about improving the service, not about being jointly proud of the greatest public service in our country", but instead to see it as something which they could use for political attacks on the Government.
Mr Salmond and Ms Lamont clashed at First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament.