One of the big problems during the pandemic was the stress caused by healthcare employees having to constantly work overtime to meet the huge spike in hospital patients infected with the virus. This overtime can be resolved in three ways:
- Reducing the number of Covid cases - via lockdowns or vaccinations. This was done by almost every nation, with various degrees of effectiveness.
- Increasing the number of healthcare workers. This could be done by increasing the number of medical schools or via immigration.
- Limiting the number of hours that each healthcare worker can spend on the job.
Did any nations implement option 3, either during the pandemic or sometime prior? Obviously this would increase the mortality rate in hospitals as patients would get less care or wait longer to be admitted, but at the same time such a policy would prevent burnout and ensure doctors and nurses don’t quit en masse due to the stress of working during a pandemic. For an example of such a policy outside the medical field we can look at truck driver regulations. Truckers are only allowed to work a certain number of hours per day, must take breaks often, have a mandated period for sleep, etc. Similar regulations exist for pilots.
I do imagine hospitals already have limits of some kind based on human physiology as most people cannot stay awake for more than 72 hours at a time but those limits are clearly beyond what would be required for a healthy work environment, judging by how overworked doctors were during the pandemic. An ideal policy would probably limit any individual healthcare worker to 12 hours per 24 hour period and at least 1 day of complete rest per week, with no exceptions for surges of patients.
Note that this a question of Politics as such a regulation would go against modern norms of medicine and would require a lot of political capital to push through.