Community health needs assessment has a central part to play in dealing with rising demand and limited resources. It enables practitioners, managers and policy-makers to identify those in greatest need and to ensure that health care resources are used to maximize health improvement. It is a vital health care planning tool to be used at the level of families, communities and populations. This document describes the ways in which health needs assessment can identify priority health needs, target resources to address inequalities and involve local people. The process of undertaking health needs is described and the important contribution of nurses explored. The document also includes a pack for training the trainers in the use of the assessment tool.