Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common complication of cirrhosis. The incidence of HCC is rising and HCC-related mortality is rising in parallel such that there were more than 1,700 deaths in the UK in 2015. Since cirrhosis is a known risk factor for the development of HCC and early diagnosis is associated with improved outcomes, surveillance for the development of HCC using regular ultrasound scans is recommended by many expert bodies including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). This surveillance is not supported by high-quality evidence and there is an increasing appreciation of the associated harms. In this review the likely benefits of surveillance are discussed together with recommendations to increase the effectiveness of surveillance overall.