Brexit fears could lead to waves of British expats returning from the continent and piling pressure on UK infrastructure, researchers have said.

University of Cambridge academics are working to mitigate rash decisions by compiling a database that will enable UK expats residing in EU nations to receive reliable, up-to-the-minute advice throughout the negotiation process once Article 50 is triggered.

Researchers believe thousands of over-65s, fearful over their future rights as UK citizens on the continent, could return to the UK without necessarily having property or pensions on their return.

This could increase pressures on health and social care services at a time when significant numbers of key workers in these sectors may themselves be returning to EU homelands as a result of Brexit-related insecurities.

Researchers said fears over issues such as possible legal status and rights to work, as well as access to welfare, healthcare and pensions, could be exacerbated by misinformation.

Research funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) aims to create a one-stop shop for trustworthy information and work will take place over the next six weeks.

This would take the form of a list of information channels used by UK citizens in each EU country, including legal, health, financial and property advice services, English language local newspapers, Facebook pages, blogs and chat rooms, researchers said.

The final product will be shared with trusted parties such as government agencies, legal charities and citizen advice bureaux, but will not be released fully into the public domain for fear of exploitation by commercial and lobby organisations.

Lead researcher Dr Brendan Burchell from Cambridge's Department of Sociology said: "UK citizens abroad need to be empowered to make sound, informed decisions during Brexit negotiations on whether to remain in their adopted homelands or return to the UK.

"However, at the moment there is a missing link: There is no database of the conduits through which high-quality information can be communicated that targets specific countries or sub-groups of UK migrants.

"This is what we aim to build over the coming weeks."

There are reportedly around 1.2 million UK-born people living in EU nations such as France and Spain.

"Without access to well-grounded information that updates throughout the Brexit process, the current void will be increasingly filled with dangerous speculation and even so-called 'fake news' from partisan groups or those that would seek to prey upon the anxiety of UK over-65s to make quick money through lowball property sales or investment scams," said Dr Burchell.

Professor Maura Sheehan, an economist from Edinburgh Napier University's Business School, who is also working on the project, believes that if panic is sparked it could lead to a domino effect in certain expatriate communities.

"The idea that we could see socially isolated baby-boomer expats back in the UK with health conditions, financial woes and even ending in destitution as a result of bad decisions based on misinformation should not simply be written off as so-called 'remoaner' hysteria," she said.