The Haute Autorité de santé (HAS) - or French National Authority for Health - was set up by the French government in August 2004 in order to bring together under a single roof a number of activities designed to improve the quality of patient care and to guarantee equity within the healthcare system. HAS activities are diverse. They range from assessment of drugs, medical devices, and procedures to publication of guidelines to accreditation of healthcare organisations and certification of doctors. All are based on rigorously acquired scientific expertise. Training in quality issues and information provision are also key components of its work programme.

HAS is not a government body. It is an independent public body with financial autonomy. It is mandated by law to carry out specific missions on which it reports to Government and Parliament. It liaises closely with government health agencies, national health insurance funds, research organization, unions of healthcare professionals, and patients' representatives.

HAS has been built on 3 founding principles: a very broad field of action, which means that it can compare a range of healthcare initiatives; a high degree of scientific rigour; and independence.

HAS' organisational structure and resources
The HAS Board provides governance. Each Board member heads a specialist Committee and is responsible for a specific mission or specific aspects of a mission. The organisation is divided into several divisions which implement the strategic work-plan conceived by the Board. The annual budget is 60 million euros. HAS has 350 permanent staff but can call upon over 3000 experts.