Reports on Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and the Obstetric Anaesthetists' Association have made recommendations about the provision of staff and facilities in consultant obstetric units. We have carried out a postal survey of all units in the UK concerning provision of recovery facilities, high dependency and intensive care, and anaesthetic staffing. Replies were received from 232 units (89%). The results show that although many units had achieved recommended standards, this was not universal. In particular, only 62% had a designated and staffed recovery area, only 41% had specific obstetric high dependency beds and there were a number of units with no consultant anaesthetic sessions or trained anaesthetic assistants available around the clock. Despite the practical and financial difficulties in achieving recommended standards, it should be noted that purchasers of health care have been encouraged to ensure that the recommendations are implemented.