Needs assessment strategies can facilitate prioritisation of resources. To develop a needs assessment tool for use with advanced cancer patients and caregivers, to prompt early intervation. A convenience sample of 103 health professionals viewed three videotaped consultations involving a simulated patient, his/her caregiver and a health professional, completed the Palliative Care Needs Assessment Tool (PC-NAT) and provided feedback on clarity, content and acceptability of the PC-NAT. Face and content validity, acceptability and feasibility of the PC-NAT were confirmed. Kappa scores indicated adequate inter-rater reliability for the majority of domains; the patient spirituality domain and the caregiver physical and family and relationship domains had low reliability. The PC-NAT can be used by health professionals with a range of clinical expertise to identify individuals’ needs, thereby enabling early intervention. Further psychometric testing and an evaluation to assess the impact of the systematic use of the PC-NAT on quality of life, unmet needs and service utilisation of patients and caregivers are underway.