Humza Yousaf has pledged to make a “significantly improved” pay offer to health workers when talks resume next week.
NHS staff were offered a 5% pay rise, despite rates of inflation expected to hit double that later in the year.
Unions have called for workers to be rewarded with a decent pay rise in the face of the cost of living crisis.
The health secretary expressed his disappointment at the 5% pay offer having been rejected.
However, he has stated his intention to re-engage with trade unions in an effort to resolve the dispute.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday, Yousaf acknowledged the need to present an improve offer.
“The Government came forward with a 5% pay deal which was a record high pay deal,” he said.
“I understand why trade unions are asking for a pay deal that is closer to inflation – because of the UK Government’s economic mismanagement, inflation is through the roof.
“But equally, I have to present an improved offer, I accept that, but one that is within the financial envelope, that I don’t have to take money away from cancer services or mental health services.
“I will be doing everything in my power to prevent industrial action from taking place, which includes in our next meeting with trade unions coming forward with a significantly improved pay offer for them.”
Yousaf said that he accepts the mandate from unions to seek a better pay offer for their members.
He was also asked about whether a pay deal close to 10% could be offered to nurses.
“I think it’s fair to look at what we’ve offered other sectors, including local government, and say is that roughly where you want to get to or a similar package for other public sector workers,” said Yousaf.
“I’m not going to negotiate through the airwaves here with you, but I have said to the trade unions in my conversations with them already – although I’m disappointed that their members have rejected – I fully accept that they have a mandate from their members to reject that offer and therefore they can expect a significantly improved offer when we next sit round the table, planned for next week.”