The Andalusian organisation has won another European tender for the technical assessment of European Reference Networks for rare diseases

Currently, a total of 79 European reference units regarding rare diseases are being assessed by the Andalusian Agency for Healthcare Quality (ACSA) within the framework of the project European Reference Networks (ERNs), for which the European Commission has appointed ACSA again as independent assessment body.

The surveyors of the Andalusian organisation have already finished the documentary review of the evidences provided by the units during the self-assessment phase, and are carrying out assessment visits to 23 reference centres from different countries of the European Union, such as Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, France, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden. Among the assessed units, there are also three Spanish centres.

ACSA’s work is developed under the framework agreement signed in 2016 with the European Commission, which appoints the Andalusian Agency for Healthcare Quality as independent assessment body (IAB) of the European Reference Networks project. In the context of this agreement, in 2017 ACSA performed the assessment of 23 networks that had opted for the Commission’s acknowledgement. Such networks were composed of more than 900 healthcare units from 300 hospitals around 26 different Member States.

Nowadays, the Commission wants to continue verifying the achievement of the requirements to access the networks by the centres and units that compose them, extending ACSA’s technical assessment to the larger possible number of organisations. In order to do so, the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) published a call for tenders in which different European companies of renowned prestige competed and that the Andalusian Agency for Healthcare Quality won with a technical proposal that obtained the highest mark (93 out of 100).

European Reference Networks for rare diseases

ACSA’s positive evaluation helped representatives from all the Member States to grant the official recognition to these networks, as well as to approve the first list of European Reference Networks and the centres included in them, which is published in the web page of the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety. These networks are working on different sectors: cancer, genetics, onco-hematology, neurodegenerative diseases, paediatric pathologies, metabolopathies, and different kinds of malformations.

The aim of the ERNs is to ensure the availability of the necessary treatments regardless of the patient’s origin, which is a great step forward regarding the homogeneous treatment of such pathologies. The creation of reference networks enables the exchange of knowledge and the coordination of care for these types of diseases, which have a low incidence in population and require a high concentration of resources or specialised knowledge.

The Andalusian Agency for Healthcare Quality

The aim of the Andalusian Agency for Healthcare Quality, which is attached to the Regional Ministry of Health and has the management support of the Fundación Progreso y Salud, is to foster and promote the Andalusian Quality Model. It stands as the certification body of centres, medical care units and social services, as well as of professional competencies, continuous training and health web pages and blogs, according to the accreditation model of the Andalusian Public Health System, always striving for excellence in healthcare and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

In addition, it is the certification body of Reference Centres, Services and Units within the Spanish Health System (CSUR-SNS), at the request of the Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality; and its certification model has been exported to Portugal, where since 2012 it is the official accreditation model for healthcare centres and units.

ACSA’s work regarding the boost of quality has received the endorsement of prestigious organisations renowned at the national and international level, such as the National Accreditation Body (Entidad Nacional de Acreditación, ENAC) for the certification programmes included in the List of Normative Services and Documents or the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), one of the most prestigious organisations of the world with regard to healthcare quality. ACSA is one of the three European organisations that hold the accreditation of ISQua in its three modalities: for its organisational model, unique organisation with this one in Spain, for its certification programme of clinical management units, and for its surveyors training programme.


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