The outsourcing company Mitie has been awarded a £90m contract to take on the management of a South West hospital trust’s hotel services, it has been announced.

The deal to provide Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust with cleaning, housekeeping and maintenance services covers an initial seven-year period and allows for a further three-year extension.

Royal Cornwall’s decision to tender its facilities management services has been the source of much controversy, with more than 4,500 people signing a petition urging the trust to keep the services in house.

A non-executive director at the trust resigned last month in protest at the board’s decision to privatise the services.

More than 600 RCHT employees are due to transfer to Mitie under the deal

Rik Evans, a non-executive director for six years, announced he was standing down in protest at the move, telling the BBC he felt he had to “take a stand” on the issue.

He said: “The lowest-paid employees are going to be put out to a private company… [which] simply want to increase their bank balance.

“We take for granted the NHS in this country. Now is the time for people to wake up. This will not be the last privatisation at RCHT.”

Andrew MacCallum, RCHT deputy chief executive, said: “Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has today appointed Mitie to provide hotel services to patients and visitors and expect the contract to be in place later this year.

“Mitie has a successful track record of providing hotel services in other NHS Trusts nationwide, including cleaning services at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

“We recognise that not everyone will agree with this decision but the trust board is satisfied that Mitie will improve services to patients as well as offer best value for money for the taxpayer.

“The Trust’s priority is to continually improve services and we are confident that we have made the right decision for patients and the families we serve.”

Mitie chief executive, Ruby McGregor-Smith, said: “We are delighted to be appointed preferred bidder …We are committed to working in partnership with the Trust to delivering safe, quality [facilities management] services that will support the excellent clinical services they provide to the people of Cornwall.”

Royal Cornwall, which has a turnover of about £320m, finished 2013-14 with a £3.9m surplus and needs to find £14m of savings in 2014-15.