Tēnā koutou katoa,

Ko te reo aroha tenei ki ngā hapori ō Pasifika, Tonga me ngā whānau, hoa a, kaimahi i whakawhiua e te Hunga Tonga -Hunga Ha’apai pahūtanga tai āniwhaniwha.

Ko ngā manaakitanga kei runga ia koutou katoa.

 Our thoughts are with the Pasifika community who have family, friends or colleagues affected by the recent Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption and tsunami.

Council Members

The Council is comprised of nine members: six members are registered health practitioners and three members are laypersons.  The Council currently has one layperson vacancy.

Members are appointed by the Minister of Health for a term of up to three years.  A member can be re-appointed for a further three-year term up to a maximum of three consecutive terms (i.e. nine years).

Brett Besley


Brett is an anaesthetic technician and was appointed to the Medical Sciences Council in June 2019; originally from Auckland, he has spent extensive time in both the Manawatu and Canterbury regions and has affiliations to Ngati Kahungungu and Ngati Tuwharetoa. Clinically, he has worked in both the public and private healthcare since qualifying in 2004, and is currently working at CMDHB. He has had an interest in clinical education and professional development, and has worked in these areas continuously since 2006, having completed his Post Graduate diploma in 2019. Brett has contributed to the AUT Anaesthetic Technology programme as an occasional lecturer as well as writing and marking papers for over 12 years. Brett has also previously been involved with the Council as an auditor of Continuing Professional Development and as part of the Examination Committee.

Nicola Swain

(Deputy Chair), Lay member
Associate Professor Nicola Swain was appointed to the Council as a lay member in late 2018. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago. At the medical school she teaches a wide range of medical psychology topics and researches pain management, violence prevention and well-being. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles. Nicola has been, and is currently, involved in a number of boards including Chairperson of Carers Otago, President of The Associated New Zealand ME Society, (ANZMES), School Board of Trustees, Southern Health and Disability Ethics Committee, and the Book Discussion Scheme Advisory Board. Nicola is also current President of the New Zealand Pain Society.

Judy Campbell

 Lay Member

Judy Campbell was appointed to the Council as a lay member in October 2020. Judy is a senior manager who has worked in the public and not for profit sector for the past 30 years, including as the national Education Director for St John, where she was responsible for both First Aid training and the training of Ambulance officers. She has been a Chief Executive in a number of organisations, including the Sport Fitness and Recreation ITO (SFRITO), Tairāwhiti Polytechnic and Gisborne District Council. Her career has a focus on organisations with a strong bicultural focus or need and she recently acted as Chief Executive for an iwi trust board (Tāmanuhiri Tutu Poroporo Trust). She is currently a consultant helping organisations address issues of strategic change and financial sustainability. She is an experienced board member and Director and is a member of the Institute of Directors. 

Angela Dewhirst

 Anaesthetic Technician

Appointed to the Medical Sciences Council in May 2021, Angela started  as a Histology and Cytology Laboratory Technician in 1984. She gained a position in Cardiology in 1986 and completed the qualifications to become a Cardiac Technologist. Angela became a qualified Anaesthetic Technician in 2008. For the past three years she has simultaneously held a district wide position as the Professional Development Facilitator for Allied Health, scientific and technical, at Southern DHB. For over forty years Angela has been on various boards and committees such as the Parents Centre Aotearoa, School Board of Trustees, NZ Resuscitation Council CORE Instructors Executive, and is a past Chairperson of the NZ Anaesthetic Technicians’ Society. Angela has previously been involved with the Council as an auditor of Continuing Professional Development and was part of the Registrations and Recertification Committee.

Ruth Beeston

A registered medical laboratory scientist, Ruth was appointed to the Medical Sciences Council in June 2019. Ruth has been a medical laboratory scientist for over 30 years, working in the Wellington Hospital laboratory and now working for Canterbury SCL, as the second in charge of the Biochemistry Laboratory. She is also a technical assessor for IANZ and has a post graduate diploma in Public Health. 

Erolia Rooney

Erolia, a registered medical laboratory scientist, was appointed to the Medical Sciences Council in June 2019. Erolia is the Supervising Scientist for the NZBlood Blood Bank in the Dunedin hospital. Erolia has been a registered practitioner in NZ for over 15 years. She has been involved in the profession as a NZIMLS examiner and conference organiser, an IANZ technical auditor, a University of Otago pathology tutor, a NZBlood staff trainer, a Samoa measles volunteer practitioner and a promoter of the profession as a career, especially to the Pasifika youth. Erolia has been, and is currently, involved in a number of boards/councils including School Boards of Trustees,  The WellSouth Primary Health Network and The Otago Youth Wellness Trust. Erolia also volunteers on the Holy Name Catholic Church parish council, as Chair of the Otago Boys High School Pasifika Parents Support network, as a Director of The Lupe Faalele a Samoa i Otago Incorporated Societies, as a chaplain for the Otago Tertiary Chaplaincy, as a Pasifika voice on the Otēpoti Community Support Group, on the Otago Pasifika Professional network and as a Samoan Cultural tutor and Gagana Samoa interpreter.“O lē pale i le tauasuasu i le vao, e úla i manuia i maota” (Blessings come through good service and deeds).

Varsha Desai

A registered medical laboratory technician, Varsha was appointed to the Medical Sciences Council in June 2019. Varsha has worked as an MLPAT technician in New Zealand since 2000. Varsha has a NZQA recognized Bachelor of Science (India). Varsha has integrated from being a phlebotomist, to phlebotomy trainer, then Team Leader to her current position, Phlebotomy Quality and Compliance Coordinator with Labtests. She oversees training records of all Patient Services employees and is responsible for providing training and support to the Team Leaders and Area Managers by managing their competencies and ensuring they are equipped with the right level of knowledge and skills. 

Natasha Caldwell (Packer)

Natasha is a registered medical laboratory scientist who was appointed to the Medical Sciences Council in June 2019. Natasha graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science from Massey University in 2004. Natasha worked briefly worked in Haematology before finding her passion in Histology where she has worked for more than 17 years.  Natasha has been involved in a range of teaching and training opportunities, with her particular focus being in specimen dissection, quality management and workforce development. Natasha joined the Registration Committee in 2016 and Chair of the Registration Committee  in 2019.