Helen Francis is juggling a senior management role at The Hastings Health Centre with PhD studies and trusteeship of the Hawke's Bay Power Consumers' Trust to run for a fourth term on the Hawke's Bay District Health Board (DHB).

She said her background as a registered nurse with more than 30 years experience, mainly in community and primary care, stands her in good stead to understand issues facing patients, whanau and health-care professionals.

The DHB was increasingly focused on integrating primary care and hospital services, she said.

"This is a big challenge - how to offer more high quality excellent services closer to home, without diminishing the standard of care offered in our hospital.

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"To accomplish this requires people at all levels of the DHB, including around the board table, to have the appropriate knowledge and understanding of the system."

She has worked at The Hastings Health Centre, the largest private health centre in Hawke's Bay, for more than nine years as a nurse specialising in long-term health conditions. She recently joined its leadership team as quality and performance manager.

"I am very lucky, because regular contact with patients keeps me up to date with the community's health needs and concerns.

"The health inequities in Hawke's Bay are something the board is keen to see reduced and I hope to continue to bring a realistic perspective to those strategic decisions."

She is completing a Massey University PhD exploring the health needs of people with multiple, complex long-term health conditions.

Her studies brought home the wider influences such as housing, education and welfare on the health of the Hawke's Bay community "and how our health system needs to consider more and more those social determinants of health when planning health care".

With a post-graduate business diploma in governance, she is an elected trustee of the Hawke's Bay Power Consumers' Trust, which owns lines company Unison and its distribution network on behalf of consumers and distributes an annual dividend cheque.