Assembly Members backed the first step in an attempt by Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams to have minimum nurse staffing levels enshrined in law in Wales.
In December, Kirsty was successful in the National Assembly's ballot to introduce backbench legislation. She drew up a proposal which if successful would see Wales become the first country in the UK to place a legal duty on Health Boards and hospitals to maintain minimum nurse staffing levels.
Cross party support from Assembly Members in the chamber today means the proposal will now proceed to the next stage of the legislation process.
Speaking after the debate a relieved and delighted Kirsty Williams commented:
"I am delighted that we are now a step closer to this proposal becoming a reality. I believe it has the potential to revolutionise healthcare in Wales.
"Assembly Members across all parties saw the merit in allowing this proposal to be further explored. This proposal will ensure safe and compassionate care by having the right number of nurses on our wards.
"The Francis Report, which looked at failings by Mid Staffordshire Trust, cited low staffing levels as one reason which contributed to poor treatment at the trust. There is a clear link between staffing levels and the safety and quality of care on hospital wards."
The proposed Bill has full backing of the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Physicians and the British Medical Association in Wales amongst others.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell added
"There is still a long way to go, the legislative process is lengthy and quite rightly the proposals will be fully scrutinised at every stage. There will also be widespread consultation with healthcare professionals to ensure that the plans are fully workable and bring the expected benefits.
"As with so many aspects of our health service Wales is again lagging behind the rest of the UK with regard to nurse staffing levels. A nurse in Wales cares for on average 10.5 patients at any one time, compared with 8.8 in Scotland, 8.5 in England and only 7.2 in Northern Ireland.
"This is unfair on both patients and staff and is something that needs to be addressed in order to drive up standards of care.
"Congratulations are due to Kirsty and the team for highlighting this issue and working towards for some positive action. I hope that other AMs will continue to support it."