Public Affairs: Accenture raids GMC for Ball amid agency talks

Accenture has poached General Medical Council head of public affairs Matt Ball to be its top UK lobbyist as it prepares to appoint its first PA agency.

Ball joins the world's biggest management and technology consultancy on 5 September in the newly created post of senior manager, UK government relations, based in London. He will report to Washington-based global director of government relations Liz Arky.

Ball has been the GMC's head of public affairs for the past four years, during which time he helped handle the body's response to the Harold Shipman inquiry.

His appointment comes as Accenture solicits credentials from a number of public affairs agencies. The company plans to stage formal pitches later in the summer with a contract scheduled to be in place by the time Ball is on board. It uses Burson-Marsteller on a corporate reputation and media relations brief in the UK.

Accenture is eager to strengthen its grip on lucrative government contracts where it faces competition from the likes of Capgemini and EDS. It services two of the country's five National Programme for IT tenders, which involve making all patient records available electronically. According to the UK government relations job specification, Ball's role will place 'particular emphasis on healthcare issues'.

He said Accenture's move to strengthen its public affairs capability was down to the fact that the 'nature and volume of business is growing' in the management consultancy arena.

Prior to the GMC, Ball worked in Hill & Knowlton's public affairs practice and for Patricia Hewitt, from 1997 to 1999, when she was vice-chairman of the British Council and economic secretary to the Treasury. The GMC has started recruiting for his replacement.

Accenture posted revenues of $2.2bn (£1.24bn) last year in the UK, where it has 10,300 employees.

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