European Reference Networks Assessment

ACSA, an Independent Assessment Body

The Andalusian Agency for Healthcare Quality is an Independent Assessment Body (IAB) belonging to the assessment project of the European Reference Networks for Rare Diseases. Its function is to assess the centres of the networks which are intended to be officially recognised by the European Commission as European Reference Networks (ERN) for Rare Diseases. ERNs are new structures where specialised centres from different European Union countries are included. Its purpose is the exchange of knowledge and the coordination of assistance on rare diseases requiring a lot of resources and specialised knowledge.

The assessment of these networks developed by independent bodies provides the necessary information to the European Commission in order to grant the official acknowledgement as a Reference Network. For this purpose the Commission, through the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea), has chosen the Andalusian Agency for Healthcare Quality as a project assessment body. The Agency competed against other European renowned assessment bodies to achieve this function, getting the highest score (95 out of 100) in the calls for proposals. Its candidacy has been supported by the Spanish Federation for Rare Diseases (Federación Española de Enfermedades Raras, FEDER).



During the first call for ERNs, ACSA has assessed 23 networks, composed of 931 reference units from 370 hospitals around 26 different Member States.




EU Countries


Nowadays, ACSA is expanding its assessment to 79 units of the networks assessed in 2017 in order to continue verifying the fulfilment of the requirements to access ERNs.


These networks are currently working on different sectors: cancer, genetics, onco-hematology, neurodegenerative diseases, paediatric pathologies, metabolopathies, and others. So as to carry out this work, the Agency has a large team of surveyors, composed of 72 experts in rare diseases from 16 European countries.

Such surveyors have been responsible for visiting the centres, doing the revision of the documentation provided by the networks, and generating the assessment reports that the European Commission needs to acknowledge a network as European reference network.

Access for Assessors

ERN Assessment Tool

Would you like to take part in this exciting venture?

If you have a profile as a researcher of rare or low prevalence and complex diseases or conditions, previous experience in international assessments and excellent English skills, you could be the professional we are looking for.

ERN Assessor Training

All the ERNs

See the list of European Reference Networks acknowledged so far by the Council of Member States.

Reference Networks

ERNs, within the Directive of the European Union on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare, could be used as research and information centres for rare diseases affecting citizens from different EU countries. They have to ensure the access to the necessary treatments regardless the patient’s Member State of origin. The European Reference Networks with shared knowledge and resources are intended to concentrate European countries efforts in order to offer a more specialised healthcare.

Rare Diseases

Rare diseases, also known as low-prevalence diseases, are those with a little impact on the population, affecting no more than 5 inhabitants per 10,000. In spite of that, because of the existence of nearly 7,000 rare diseases, affected people represent 7% of the global population, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is estimated that more than 3 millions of people in Spain and 27 millions in Europe have a rare disease.

Material from the European Commission

© European Union, 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

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