Ashburton Hospital has lodged a proposal with the Canterbury District Health Board that could one day make it the South Island training hub for rural health specialists.

The proposal outlines the resources and experience to successfully become a central training hub.

Rural hospital medicine specialist John Lyons, who has been with the hospital for six years, said most steps had been put in place and he expected the hospital to progress considerably within the year.

"We are definitely on the right track to becoming the go to place, if not already considered as the place to train,'' Dr Lyons said.


"Graduates need rural hospital exposure and we are well positioned to offer that, it's securing an ongoing future for this hospital and it is an integral part of a national training programme.''

Operations manager Mark Newsome said the hospital had taken significant steps to cement a solid future, including the recent employment of several specialist medicine staff and further recruitment of trainees.

"We're specifically set up here to deliver rural specialist medicine health care and what we do, we do well,'' he said.

Mr Newsome was upbeat about the proposal to become a South Island training hub but said higher approval had to be sought and the formal transition wouldn't happen overnight.

"It's a case of we want to walk, before we can run - there is still a bit of work to put in yet before we achieve that goal, but I'd certainly say the opportunities are there,'' he said.

Ashburton Hospital has five rural medicine specialists and by the end of the year will have four trainees officially on the staff roster.