European Reference Networks welcome new members

Healthcare providers in Europe can apply from 30 September until 30 November to become members of one of the 24 European Reference Networks (ERNs) – virtual networks of healthcare providers across Europe that aim to facilitate discussions on complex or rare diseases and conditions that require highly-specialised treatment and a critical mass of knowledge and resources. This is an opportunity to widen the geographical coverage of the existing networks particularly from the currently underrepresented Member States, such as Greece, Malta and Slovakia. This call will also enable to widen the scope of possible conditions and patients to be treated since new diseases will also be part of it. Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “European Reference Networks are a real success story, almost a European miracle, a clear example of how the EU can be beneficial to its citizens and I am extremely proud of what we achieved in this area. With the call for new ERNs members, we will ensure a broader coverage of the networks in Europe to allow patients, for example, from remote areas in Poland, to have the same access to a diagnosis and cure as patients located in big cities like Paris or Berlin. At the same time, the Member States need to take into account the absorption capacity of the ERNs and ensure that the network members are well integrated in the national healthcare systems.”More than 950 clinical units, hosted in around 300 hospitals, have become members of these 24 networks established in 2017. However, the geographical origin of the ERNs shows a certain imbalance between the Western and the Eastern part of Europe with the participation of smaller countries appearing to be more limited, and in certain cases absent. More information can be found here.