The second of three studies being undertaken by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) has recently reported its findings and recommendations. The standards of diabetes and maternal care and the outcomes of 3808 pregnancies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are described. Pre-pregnancy planning and care before conception is poor. Stillbirth rate (26.8 per thousand) and perinatal mortality (41.8 per thousand) were 4–5 times higher than the background population, and congenital anomaly (41.8 per thousand) double the background rate. Type 2 diabetes now represents 27.3% of pre-gestational diabetes and more often of ethnic minority and deprived background than Type 1 diabetes. The ideals of the Diabetes National Service Framework and the target of the Saint Vincent declaration are far from being achieved. Much can be done to improve the outcomes of pregnancy within existing resources with better systems and organization of care. However, if significant progress is to be made, it is incumbent upon health-care professionals and health-care commissioners to direct resources specifically at improving pre-pregnancy and maternity services. Research is needed firstly to analyse in greater detail the wealth of data collected in the CEMACH survey and consider the implications of health-care costs. Further research to discover ways of reducing the adverse outcomes is urgently required. The need to educate, motivate and bring about improved pre-pregnancy care in women with diabetes is a priority.