The First Minister has come under attack over the "crisis" in accident and emergency units.
Mr Salmond conceded that this winter was "a challenging time" for hospital A&E departments.
But the Scottish Government acted to tackle the problem, he said, with a £50 million overhaul to try to improve treatment times and patient care announced earlier this week.
Both Labour and the Tories turned on the Scottish Government over hospital waiting times after new figures were released.
In December 323 cases were recorded where patients waited more than four hours in A&E, the highest total since July 2007.
While national standards say that 98% of people in A&E should be either admitted or transferred for treatment, or discharged from hospital, within four hours, only 90.3% of patients were dealt with within the target time in December.
Mr Salmond said: "There is no doubt this winter has been a challenging time for accident and emergency units across Scotland."
It was "quite clear from the winter pressures" that hit the health service that "accident and emergency units have to be strengthened further". That is "exactly what" Health Secretary Alex Neil has done, Mr Salmond said.
The £50 million, available over three years, aims to change the way people are admitted to hospital, help them leave as soon as they are ready and improve links with other areas of healthcare so support is in place in the community.
But Labour leader Johann Lamont asked: "If there was £50 million available, why was it not made available earlier, rather than now in response to a crisis?"