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Spotlight - meet Rachel Plachcinski

Rachel Plachcinski and her family selfie

Published on Thursday, 06 June 2019

Hello, I'm one of the co-leads on Parent, Patient and Public Involvement at the PRU-MNHC. I'm based near Leeds, in West Yorkshire, and I'm married with three adult sons.

I got involved in maternity research after having babies and training as an antenatal teacher with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). My NCT tutor encouraged me to read and use original research and I went on to study at the University of Leeds. In 2008, NCT advertised for a parent representative on NPEU's INFANT trial (computerised interpretation of fetal heart rate during labour). I jumped at the chance and learnt a huge amount.

I've since been on the team for several different research projects. I've also been involved with the Maternity Voices Partnership (formerly the Maternity Services Liaison Committee) in Dewsbury for several years and I now run a Positive Birth Movement group and am a peer supporter at my local Baby Café.

The main thing I have learnt is that good research needs to be democratic – that is, you need to include different perspectives on an issue if you want to produce truly insightful and impactful results. I've also observed some amazing people in action and have learnt from them how to do things such as chair meetings, organise a project and handle conflict.

It can take many years for research findings to work their way through into practice. However I am confident that my involvement in various projects has at the very least resulted in them being more parent-centred. I have been able to feed parents' views into influencing research questions, the outcomes that have been measured, the conduct of the study and the information made available for parents to support their decision making. I've also built relationships with researchers and health professionals which help them to understand more of the parent perspective.

In my spare time I love attending agricultural shows – the Great Yorkshire Show is a permanent fixture on my calendar - and I am Head of Facilities for my local show in Mirfield which is run entirely by volunteers.

Updated: Wednesday, 11 November 2020 14:19 (v2)