The Queen got a surprise when a medical dummy told her he was feeling dizzy, during her visit to a facility training student doctors in Hull.
John is one of a number of functional lifelike dummies used to train students at the University of Hull’s Allam Medical Building.
Not only can he speak, but he can simulate symptoms of high blood pressure, lung disease, heart failure and other conditions that affect his vital signs.
Professor Julie Jomeen, dean of the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences, recalled what happened when the Queen opened the £28 million centre in 2017.
She told journalists on a tour of the medical building at the British Science Festival, taking place at the university: “John was asked how he was feeling and he said, ‘I’m not feeling very well, actually. I’m feeling a bit dizzy’, which was a surprise to the Queen.”
In fact John was being operated by a student from some distance away.
He lacks any kind of artificial intelligence and is not clever enough to respond to voices directly, Prof Jomeen explained.
But he is a great help to the student doctors who visit him in his “ward”.
“He can show symptoms of hypertension (high blood pressure), breathlessness, and anything that involves his vital signs,” said Prof Jomeen.
“For heart failure, for instance, we’d demonstrate what’s going on with his pulse and oxygen saturation. You can make him turn paler or darker, and you can even make his lips go blue.”
In other wards there are groups of slightly creepy dummy children, and an immobile “patient” lies on a bed in a fully equipped operating theatre.
“You can use computer modelling for a lot of things, but sometimes it’s better to have something real that you can touch,” said Prof Jomeen.