The strength of the garrison was 2,246 rank and file, 4 Surgeons and 4 Assistant Surgeons.
Valletta had a number of medical practitioners who visited their patients for a fee. Among these were four English practitioners, Drs Sankey, Stilon, Galland, and Dr Waugh. The former two were retired naval surgeons of 1814 and 1815 on half pay. Dr Galland was a young practitioner who owed his knowledge of his profession to Dr Stilon, having been his pupil.
A number of foreigners chose to winter at Malta for the benefit of their health. Most had pulmonary conditions mainly bronchitis or tuberculosis. When their problem took a turn for the worst they consulted the established practitioners. However, it was also the practice in Malta at the time for military and naval medical officers to indulge in private practice, much to the annoyance of the established practitioners.
In a letter to the Malta Times under the heading Private Practice an anonymous writer complained:
Everyone here knows that both officers of the army and navy have visited patients, nay more still do so. Yet as the onus probandi of taking a fee for their services is more than I care to attempt, I only hope that a course so prejudicial to every private practitioner will be stopped instantly.
The tariff allegedly used by army medical officers was:
- Consultation on a case 10s 0d.
- Bleeding in the arm 5s 5d.
- Ordinary prescription £1 1s.
- Prescription with sherry/brandy £1 10s.
An Army Medical Practitioner in his letter to the editor of the Malta Mail dated 17 Dec 1845, decried the practice of army surgeons collecting fees for consultations.
I read a letter from Joseph Caudle that having an ill daughter, he called in an army medical officer, who after giving his services, would not quit the house till he had been paid according to a tariff he produced. As such a statement is likely to do an injury to the service, I beg to observe that although some of the medical officers may have received fees, I have never done so, and I really believe that no tariff has ever been issued with the knowledge at least of the profession, and on my application to the Deputy Inspector General Montagu Martin Mahony, he declares his ignorance of that fact.
Much has been said on the subject and much has been indirectly asserted to proof that medical officers from the highest to the lowest have taken fees, especially from visitors in the island, but how true this may be I know not, nor does it concern me. A sharp rebuke has it is said come out from England which may put a stop to this practice. I am of the opinion that if the medical branch of the army would confine itself to its duties, and neither give attendance to the rich nor poor except gratuitously, nor interfere with the private practitioner, that for the sake of peace and to prevent such discussions as now occupy the local press, it would be much more dignified and noble.