The Andalusian organisation has participated in the 4th Conference on European Reference Networks held in Brussels as independent assessment body

A total of 79 European reference units regarding rare diseases have been 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 role of the Andalusian agency with regard to this project has been noted in the 4th Conference on European Reference Networks that the European Commission is holding in Brussels, which has emphasised the assessment work carried out by ACSA in order to check the quality and the achievement of the requirements that units have to meet so as to get the accreditation as reference centres by the Commission.

In the last few months, ACSA’s surveyors have carried out the documentary review of all the evidences provided by the 79 units during the self-assessment phase and they have done 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.

After the assessment, the Andalusian Agency for Healthcare Quality has issued the reports with the results concerning the visits and the documentary review, opening a period for making representations, during which units that do not have a positive assessment have the opportunity to correct the aspects with the worst score.

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 24 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.

This year, 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).

4th Conference on European Reference Networks

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.

After ACSA’s positive evaluation in March 2017, representatives from all the Member States of the European Union granted the official recognition to these networks and approved 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.

Nowadays, more than one year after its implementation, the 4th Conference on European Reference Networks intends to present the main clinical and organisational results of the networks, as well as to identify the most important challenges and the areas for improvement that will be addressed in the near future. This event has gathered in Brussels more than 400 participants: representatives of the EU institutions, authorities from the health systems of the Member States, members of the networks and representatives of patients. Likewise, a team from the Andalusian Agency for Healthcare Quality, headed by the Director Antonio Torres, has participated in the meetings of the Conference on behalf of the networks assessment body.

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) 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 holds 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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