Linking dentists’ pay to how many people are on their books will see them rewarded for registering new patients, plans aimed at boosting access to NHS services explain.

The move follows widespread criticism of the current system, which allows dentists to charge local health trusts for a procedure and then charge again even if they are the reason why a patient has had to return for further treatment.

It’s an incentive to take more patients on

A recent review of NHS dentistry shows examples of dentists recalling patients too often, or choosing more profitable treatments for patients when a less lucrative alternative was available.

After reading the report, health secretary Andy Burnham said he accepted the latest proposals “in principle”.

According to the document’s author, Professor Jimmy Steele, dentists would have a “significant chunk” of their annual income - possibly as much as 50 per cent - linked to the number of patients on their list.

“It’s an incentive to take more patients on,” he said. “We are saying there needs to be an incentive to take patients on and it’s also a useful performance measure.”

Professor Steele’s review, which was ordered by former health secretary Alan Johnson, also recommends dentists are held more accountable when things go wrong.