A PAIR of oversized shoes may have contributed to the bizarre death of a care home worker, who bled to death in front of her daughter.

Dish washer Linda Hayes, 51, died when she fell on the kitchen floor and a five-inch knife she was carrying on a chopping board severed a main artery in her neck.

Colleagues tried to stem the blood flow, but she was declared dead on arrival at the University Hospital of North Durham.

The accident happened last July at Brockwell Court Nursing Home in Cobden Street, Consett, County Durham, where she worked with daughter, Janet, then aged 19.

Dr Paul Lemon, of the Health and Safety Executive, an expert on floor surfaces, said Mrs Hayes was wearing non-slip shoes, which were worn and too big for her.

"The shoes could have led to an unsteady gait, or uncomfortable walking style."

''The evidence suggests that Mrs Hayes fell forward, which is not consistent with a slip.

"All material evidence shows that wearing ill-fitting footwear would increase the risk of slipping as would worn footwear."

Although several people were in the kitchen at the time of the tragedy, there were no eyewitnesses to the accident, the Durham inquest was told.

Maintenance engineer Michael Telfor, who was in the kitchen fitting a detergent dispenser, raised the alarm after Mrs Hayes fell, before trying to stem her blood loss.

The centre's nurse, Margaret Walker, said: "Linda was semi-conscious. She slowly drifted, her pulse was getting weaker and weaker.

"We carried out CPR, and continued for about 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived."

Mrs Hayes, who lived in Watling Bungalows, Leadgate, near Consett, with husband Jim, Janet and their other daughter, Sandra, had worked at the nursing home for about nine years.

The inquest jury of five women and two men, sitting at Durham magistrates' court took less than ten minutes to return a verdict of accidental death.

Janet Hayes did not give evidence at the inquest. Mrs Hayes' family, who were in court, were too upset to speak.

A spokeswoman for Brockwell Court, owned by Four Seasons Healthcare, said: "The inquest rightly did not apportion blame for this tragic and bizarre accident."