No centre alone has the knowledge and capacity to treat all rare and complex conditions, but by cooperating and exchanging life-saving knowledge at European level through European Reference Networks (ERNs), patients across the EU have access to the best expertise available.
ERNs are virtual networks involving Reference Centres across Europe. They aim to tackle complex or rare conditions that require highly specialised treatment and concentrated knowledge and resources. The first ERNs were launched in March 2017, involving more than 900 highly-specialised healthcare units from over 300 hospitals in 26 European countries. There are 24 ERNs working on a range of thematic issues. In Scotland, there are seven centres of excellence in four of the national health service boards.
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Using this voluntary collaboration between health care providers, the patient benefits from best treatment and advice available in the European Union for specific conditions.
ERNs are not directly accessible to individual patients.