Eight ambulances and the equivalent of 34 full-time paramedics have been added to the Lower Mainland emergency services as part of a plan to increase efficiency and respond to changing needs.

Health Minister Terry Lake says the province is facing increased demand from an aging population and growing rates of complex chronic disease.

"To reduce the pressures these put on emergency and hospital services, we are focusing on patients more proactively – with prevention, health management and better primary care in a patient's community," Lake said in a statement.

"A strong and responsive ambulance system is still critical," he said.

Another issue highlighted by the review, is the high volume of calls and transfers for patients with medical issues that are not urgent or life-threatening, but that can mean paramedics spending more than 30 minutes at the ER.

"Patient care and the patient experience will be enhanced through our efforts to be more progressive and flexible in how we respond to the needs of our patients, especially as they age and their need for our services grows," Linda Lupini, executive vice-president, Provincial Health Services Authority and BC Emergency Health Services, said in a statement.

With files from Richard Zussman